The San Francisco Giants made a somewhat surprising but completely understandable set of moves on Thursday, their final off day before the All-Star break. They purchased the contract of right-handed pitcher Mauricio Llovera, and optioned fellow right-handed pitcher Keaton Winn. To make space on the 40-man roster, outfielder Dalton Guthrie was designated for assignment.
Let’s break it down because, like I said, the pieces sound surprising at the surface, but it’s a very simple and understandable set of moves.
Winn is the notable name here, and some might be surprised to see him optioned when he’s been playing well. But he pitched on Tuesday and, now that he’s being used as an actual starter, that means that he wasn’t going to pitch again until after the All-Star break. Which means he would have provided nothing during the Giants upcoming three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.
Unless there’s an injury (and let’s face it: there probably will be), Winn won’t be allowed to be recalled until July 21, as pitchers cannot be called up within 15 days of being optioned unless to replace an injured player. The 21st is the Giants eighth game after the break. Since they’ll reset their rotation during the All-Star break, that means Winn will only miss one scheduled start if he’s out for the minimum of 15 days and, again, there’s a good chance he just comes back before then to replace an injured player.
For anyone upset about the Giants potentially skipping a Winn start: a reminder that he had Tommy John surgery a few years ago, and didn’t pitch at all in 2020 (pandemic) or 2021 (injury). He didn’t return until during the 2022 season, and only pitched 108 innings. A little midseason rest for someone on pace to blow past that mark is probably a good thing.
On to Llovera. It’s kind of a repeat of last year for the righty. He’s a 27 year old who’s more of a depth piece than a prospect, and if you’re wondering why he’s the one getting called up, well ... that’s why. He played for the Giants last year, sparingly, but was designated for assignment. Not to be grim, but that’s probably what will happen to him again this year. With a 3.92 ERA, a 5.36 FIP, and 24 strikeouts to 6 walks in 20.2 innings with AAA Sacramento this year, Llovera is a guy who can provide some value in the Majors, while also being — for lack of a more humane word — disposable. He’s being added in part because he’s one of the only players in Sacramento who isn’t walking everyone, and in part because players like Chris Wright and Erik Miller are better prospects, and the Giants want to keep them. With Llovera, they can DFA him after the All-Star break when Anthony DeSclafani returns, and probably not miss a beat.
These are the moves the Giants have made a million of in the past few years, but their excellent depth this season has really kept such moves in check over the last few months. By my count, Llovera, Austin Wynns, and Cal Stevenson are the only players who have been added to the 40-man this year because of the Giants being willing to then remove them from the 40.
Finally, onto Guthrie. The Giants traded cash for the outfielder a few weeks ago and he was playing so-so in Sacramento. What this really signals (to me, at least — I may be off on everything I’m saying so far) is that the plan is for Heliot Ramos to return to the 40-man roster when his 60-day IL stint/20-day maximum rehab stint is up in under two weeks.
Welcome back, Mauricio! See you soon, Keaton! Godspeed, Dalton!