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Drew Pomeranz has been drawing trade interest

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The biggest surprise of the Giants’ deadline has been the sudden interest in a former starter.

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The trade market has been stuck in a bucket of syrup, and as the hours tick by and the new normal as created by the geniuses in every MLB front office cements itself, it’s clear that there aren’t likely to be any sweet, sweet deals to come at tomorrow’s 1pm Pacific deadline.

But lo! There’s this:

Pomeranz has been so dominant since his move to the bullpen that it compelled the Giants to move Derek Holland, who, like Pomeranz, had struggled in the rotation before flourishing in a relief role. After his trade to the Cubs, that left Pomeranz as the remaining failed starter but dominant lefty reliever, but with such a small sampling it seemed unlikely from this outsider’s perspective that he could generate any trade interest.

But a left-hander who can throw 94 mph and has a sharp curveball will almost always have some sort of value. At least that one bit of conventional baseball industry wisdom has remained (for now). If the Nationals are closest to making the deal, the addition of Pomeranz will help them out quite a bit.

Besides closer Sean Doolittle, the Nationals have two other lefties in their bullpen: Tony Sipp and Matt Grace. Sipp has an odd career split:

vs. RHB: .217/.312/.405 (.716 OPS)
vs. LHB: .223/.297/.407 (.705 OPS)

So, he’s been just a little bit better against lefties than righties, but he hasn’t been utterly dominant. For comparison’s sake, left-handed batters have a career .628 OPS against Pomeranz. But Sipp has been effective, so you can imagine that the Nationals might hold onto him.

Pomeranz would more likely replace Matt Grace, a 29-year old left-handed pitcher

In 10 games this month, he’s opened, pitched multiple innings three times and struck out 10 in 10.2 innings while walking zero. For his career, he’s had a traditional lefty reliever split:

vs. RHB: .285/.335/.481 (.816 OPS)
vs. LHB: .258/.309/.300 (.608 OPS)

But this year, the variance is a little more stark:

vs. RHB: .322/.357/.644 (1.002 OPS)
vs. LHB: .274/.303/.356 (.659 OPS)

Pomeranz hasn’t done much better against righties for his career (.769 OPS) and definitely not this season (.948 OPS), but he seems like a more solid bet to perform the left-handed swing role in which the Nationals have used Grace.

This is the sort of incremental roster improvement that builds depth. Is Drew Pomeranz an upgrade over Matt Grace? I would think so, even if I, like the rest of you, have watched Drew Pomeranz pitch this season. He has some utility and his strengths are obvious. He’ll have some value to some team under a very specific set of circumstances. In the case of the Nationals, though, it’s kinda funny to see them trying to trade for a reliever. But the old saying is true: you never know what you’ve Gott until it’s gone.

As for what the Giants could get in return for him? Let’s not get too excited here. It will be some player who can add depth to the organization, but very likely won’t make the major leagues. Still, gaining a player who will be in the organization beyond 2019 will certainly be quite a feat if Farhan Zaidi can manage it. Pomeranz had a 6.10 ERA when he was moved to the bullpen.

Drew Pomeranz probably won’t be the only Giant moved before tomorrow’s deadline, but it’ll still be surprising if he’s the first.