Yesterday, the San Francisco Giants made a pair of moves to add a pair of 1B/DH/OF types to the system, which I’ll talk a bit more about in a second because of the weird timing.
Susan Slusser reported yesterday afternoon that the team had signed former Ray, former Pirate, and former Dodger 1B/DH/OF Yoshi Tsutsugo to a minor league deal. MLB Trade Rumors went into a bit more detail about how he had opted out of a minor league deal with the Rangers after 280 plate appearances (.249/.380/.432) but had to sign with the Atlantic League when no other offers appeared for the 31-year old.
Tsutsugo signed with the Staten Island FerryHawks but very quickly hit his way back out of independent ball. The left-handed hitter connected on seven home runs in 12 games, posting an overall .359/.479/.949 batting line in 48 trips. That excellent showing earns him another crack at Pacific Coast League pitching with the Giants’ top affiliate in Sacramento.
But also, the Giants made a trade with the A’s yesterday, which either didn’t pop up on their transaction page until this morning or wasn’t spotted until then. The Giants traded 30-year LHP Sean Newcomb — who’d signed with the team in February and pitched for Sacramento (3.15 ERA, 31.1 IP, 40-20 K-BB) — to the A’s for 1B/OF Trenton Brooks who, like Tsutsugo, is a left-handed hitter. He was the 17th round pick of Cleveland in the 2016 draft and signed with the A’s as a minor league free agent this past offseason.
He hit .299/.405/.529 (.934 OPS) in 94 games (412 PA) with 16 home runs and 29 doubles. Most importantly, a 57-60 BB-K, and for his career, a stellar 256-375 BB-K. But thanks to the PCL, this is also his best power year by far. That .529 slug is basically 100 points better than his career average (.430).
Here he is with a four-hit game back in April...
Now, the “big” headline here is a player for player trade between the Giants and the A’s, but I’m inclined to believe that the marquee should be saved for something truly newsworthy:
Correction: It was a trade! Newcomb for Trenton Brooks. (Though I still won't count it as a Giants/A's player-for-player deal until it involves 40-man roster players)— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) August 22, 2023
Given the way Zaidi works, that might wind up being something like David Villar for Conner Capel, but still, the point remains — these are two minor league free agents being swapped. Hardly a move that deserves the splash feature treatment.
Anyway, this has been a a lot of words to talk about how the Giants made a couple of moves to address their depth, but I do wonder: is that all this is? Until yesterday’s offensive “explosion,” Joc Pederson had curdled. Recall that he was on his way to pay overseas in 2022 until the Giants threw $6 million at him at the last minute. Maybe he’s always been playing on borrowed time.
Meanwhile, the rest of the left-handed hitting brigade: Michael Conforto, Blake Sabol, Wade Meckler, Yohan Camargo (switch), Patrick Bailey (switch), Brandon Crawford, Brett Wisely, Bryce Johnson, and Mike Yastrzemski doesn’t inspire too much confidence. I would not be surprised if either of these guys get a shot before the season ends.
These pre-September acquisitions for minor leaguers allow them to be eligible for the playoffs (players just have to be in the organization by September 1st). It is highly unlikely that some rando off the street would make a playoff roster, but it’s clear the Giants are trying to do everything they can now to give themselves a shot. Tsutsugo is 31 and Brooks is 28. These are not long-term moves so you have to wonder why they’re being made. It must be noted: Tsutsugo was on the Rays’ 2020 playoff roster. He went 2-for-16.
One thing both of these players would seem to offer is plate discipline. I mentioned Brooks’ career BB-K, but Tsutsugo’s non-major league numbers are instructive 90-132 in the minors and 631-1096 in Japan. The Giants know they’re not going to have a good lineup this year — and maybe ever, because of how Oracle Park plays and the way PEDs and sign stealing are policed — but it does seem like the Pollock trade signaled an idea they have in the front office that maybe it’s not about being good or even average, it’s about being close to average.
With a pitching staff as good as the one they have, they’re a firm Wild Card team. That they have the worst lineup ever assembled is a total embarrassment, one they can only remedy through margin moves and extra coaching. I think the plan was to boost a 72-73 wRC+ team to 90 wRC+ which, combined with their pitching, could maybe get them out of the Wild Card round. Given the franchise’s limitations, this is a smart move. There’s almost no chance that either of these two players will help them reach that goal, but you have to admire them for trying. These are the best of what’s left.