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Giants trade for Cooper Hummel

Have cash, will churn.

Cooper Hummel running the base paths. Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants just made perhaps the least surprising move of the offseason, agreeing to trade cash considerations to the New York Mets in exchange for switch-hitting positionless wonder Cooper Hummel.

The news was first reported by Fansided’s Robert Murray.

This extremely unsurprising news was only made possible by last month’s extremely surprising news: that the Giants North Seattle Mariners waived Hummel without the Giants picking him up. Instead, they waited until the Mets designated the 29 year old for assignment before swooping in and grabbing him, filling the vacant 40-man spot that was created when the team cashed in a two-for-one deal and traded Mitch Haniger and Anthony DeSclafani to — who else — Seattle for Robbie Ray.

Hummel is almost everything that the Giants crave when churning players at the back-end of the roster, which is to say he’s basically a switch-hitting Blake Sabol with worse Major League numbers. He has mostly split his MLB time between catcher and left field, and last year in AAA picked up a third residence on first base. He has a lovely hit tool (.288 batting average in AAA) and draws a ton of walks (169 free passes against 207 strikeouts in 977 AAA plate appearances). All that has added up to a lot of offensive success in the upper Minors: in 2021 he posted a .942 OPS/155 wRC+ in 168 plate appearances for Milwaukee’s AAA squad, and a 1.004 OPS/148 wRC+ in 198 plate appearances for Arizona’s AAA team following a midseason trade. He spent much of the next year on the Diamondbacks MLB team, but in 156 plate appearances in AAA that season he had a .950 OPS/138 wRC+.

Things were less pretty in 2023, when Hummel had an .844 OPS/114 wRC+ in AAA in his first season in the Mariners organization. But Seattle’s AAA affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, play in the Pacific Coast League alongside San Francisco’s AAA team, the Sacramento River Cats. So even though Hummel wasn’t at his best, the Giants scouts got a close look at him.

His time in the Majors has been grim. He played 66 games in his debut season in 2022, and just 10 last year, hitting .166/.264/.286 (58 wRC+), with a 32.2% strikeout rate across the two seasons. But if he can tap into his Minor League success, there’s an interesting player there (and he has an option remaining). He also has started to reinvent his game a little: after stealing just 24 bases in his first six pro seasons, Hummel swiped 27 bags last year between AAA and the Majors.

He’s also a good tweeter.

There’s no need to stress over the back of the roster, since the Giants will churn, churn, churn, and swap pieces in and out as players become available. But it’s certainly noteworthy how much the team has flooded the roster with catchers and outfielders. Hummel joins Sabol to make a duo of part-time catchers behind three full-time catchers: Patrick Bailey, Tom Murphy, and Joey Bart. And those two join Brett Wisely and Tyler Fitzgerald to form a quartet of part-time outfielders behind eight full-time grass-dwellers: Jung Hoo Lee, Michael Conforto, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Luis Matos, Heliot Ramos, Wade Meckler, and T.J. Hopkins.

Needless to say, more moves are on the horizon. Until then, enjoy your stay, Cooper ... brief as it potentially may be.