We found out earlier this morning that Mac Williamson was on his way to join the team in Colorado and throughout the afternoon we got a sense that a swath of moves was forthcoming. We’ve got the facts in place now and, oh reader, check it out. The team needed two tweets to express just what went down:
ROSTER MOVES:— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) May 7, 2019
• OF Mike Gerber optioned to AAA Sacramento.
• SHP Pat Venditte optioned to AAA Sacramento post-game, designated for assignment.
• OF Gerardo Parra outrighted to AAA Sacramento and elected free agency.
• IF Yangervis Solarte designated for assignment. (con’d)
• Williams Jerez (#63) recalled from AAA Sacramento.— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) May 7, 2019
• IF Donovan Solano (#7) selected from AAA Sacramento.
• OF Mac Williamson (#51) selected from AAA Sacramento. #SFGiants
Mike Gerber had just a hit and a walk along with nine strikeouts in 16 plate appearances over the weekend in Cincinnati. He also had major league options remaining. Rather than continue to watch him struggle, Farhan Zaidi and company thought it was better to send him down and go after a sure thing.
Is Mac Williamson a sure thing? Well, he’s as close to one as you’re going to find in the organization at the moment. Not only does he already have some major league experience, he also has a teeny tiny bit of major league success, as recently as a calendar year ago. On top of that, he’s just demolishing the baseball.
Here’s the 511-foot home run he hit last night in Sacramento, his third home run of the game:
As the indispensable giantsprospects account on Twitter mentions:
Mac Williamson’s plate approach this season:— GPT (@giantsprospects) May 7, 2019
First 8 games: 28K%, 3BB%, 0HR.
Next 15 games: 24K%, 19BB%, 9HR.
There has been an nice uptick in walk rate across the organization, which is a fundamental part of responsible sabremetricking. The Giants players are figuring out a way to stand out to the new boss.
As former boss of mine Grant Brisbee noted on The Athletic today, this next week represents Mac Williamson’s last shot with the team. If he pulls a Gerber, he’s out of options and they’ll have to release him. They’ve already used their one shot of outrighting him to the minors, so he’ll be able to become a free agent if that’s the route they go.
We can argue over whether or not he should get a longer leash, but the Giants seem to be managing for now a lot more than I expected them to. A true rebuilding team would’ve let Gerber go 1-for-70 because what does it matter, it’s not like the team is any good. But it looks like they’re trying to see if they can actually compete a little bit — at least through May — and that’s why Gerber was sent down so quickly (also, the options help) and Yangervis Solarte — my pick to be this year’s lottery ticket winner — was released.
This is a great opportunity for Williamson. He’s got a 1.053 OPS in 7 games at Coors Field (19 PA), he’s hot with the bat right now, he can play all the outfield positions and has had a reverse platoon split for his career — and a lot of his recent highlights (check GPT’s Twitter feed) have been against right-handed pitching — so while the Belt/Austin platoon might take a hit, we’re not going to see Yangervis Solarte in left.
About these other moves:
- Pat Venditte’s weekend was bad and the Giants made an obvious move both optioning him down and removing him from the 40-man roster. He’ll stay with the organization and probably get another shot come September, but if he doesn’t, thanks for providing the momentarily thrill of switch pitching.
- Gerardo Parra’s defense was fantastic in his brief time with the Giants and will be interesting to see if he finds a spot with the Dodgers or Padres to get closer to playing for all five teams in the NL West.
- Williams Jerez has one major league option remaining, and even though his addition means there are now four left-handed relievers in the bullpen, his 95 mph fastball average, and, again, that option remaining, gives him some utility. Or, at the very least, gives the Giants a fresh arm against the Rockies over the next three days. If it doesn’t work out, they can just option him back to Sacramento.
- Donovan Solano last appeared in a major league game for the Yankees back in 2016. The 31-year old has basically been a journeyman middle infielder his entire career, bouncing around various organizations via free agent signing. In 370 major league games, he has a .257/.306/.331 line. He also has 14 hit by pitches. He has an .829 OPS in Sacramento this season, which is probably the league average, but the Giants are in dire need of ... something from their middle infield.
They have just 10 extra base hits combined from Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik with Solarte contributing just six more in limited time. Solarte, like Pablo Sandoval, was not great against left handed pitching (just a .680 OPS) meaning the Giants’ bench is still extremely susceptible to left-handed relievers. Solano is not a switch hitter, just a straight up right-handed batter, but he’s also been much worse against lefties in his career (.577). Still, having another pure right-handed bat in there could help out the rest of the lineup late in games. Or not and this is just a 1-2 week experiment until Jalen Miller or Henry Ramos is deemed ready.
- Not included in today’s list of transactions but worth remembering: last week, the Giants claimed Andrew Moore and designated Breyvic Valera for assignment, taking another switch-hitting middle infielder off the roster. No idea how that played into the Solano add today, but wonder if the lotsa moves activity actually stepped on a move they’d need to make today. Valera was hitting okay in Triple-A and would certainly seem to represent more upside than Solano.
Okay, so, just who’s on the Giants right now? It might seem a little weird to think about, but here it goes. Positions and their primary players along with their would-be backups who are still on the 40-man roster:
Erik Kratz (on injured list)
Pablo Sandoval (hey, you remember — he played here twice last season)
Derek Holland (10-day IL)
Pablo Sandoval (hey, you remember — there’s going to be a bobblehead)
We’re probably due for overhauls like this once a month for the rest of the calendar year as Farhan & co. remake the organization, so, you know, just be ready.