Just a few days ago, pitcher Ross Stripling made the social media rounds to unveil his new pitch: a “deathball.” It seems the San Francisco Giants were not convinced that Stripling’s slider variant was enough to put a dreadful 2023 in the rearview mirror and channel an excellent 2022. Because on Friday morning, the Giants strapped some cash to Stripling and shipped him across the bay — or perhaps to Vegas — for Oakland A’s utility prospect Jonah Cox.
As has been the case with the Giants all offseason, the move was shrouded in secrecy, with the team announcing it at the same time as any reporters did.
The #SFGiants and A’s completed a trade earlier today with OF Jonah Cox joining the Giants organization in exchange for RHP Ross Stripling and cash considerations.— SFGiants (@SFGiants) February 2, 2024
This is a strict salary dump for the Giants, as Cox does not figure into their immediate plans; he’s a 2023 draft pick (sixth round), and hasn’t made it out of A-ball yet. Adding prospects is always a good thing, but this trade was definitely more about clearing both the roster spot and Stripling’s $12.5 million salary from the books. Per The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, the Giants are sending $3.25 million to the A’s, so they’re really shedding $9.25 million in 2024 payroll obligations.
My initial thought is that the Giants have another move in the works. They now have a healthy chunk of additional cash to play with, and their already patchwork rotation is now down a player. It seemed pretty clear that the Giants intended to open the season with a rotation of Logan Webb, Kyle Harrison, Jordan Hicks, Keaton Winn, and Stripling, and see how that worked while they waited for Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray to get healthy. Now they’ll need to replace Stripling (Blake Snell, anyone?), unless they plan on adding a third unproven youngster to the rotation (Tristan Beck? Carson Whisenhunt? Mason Black? Kai-Wei Teng?), or having the bullpen work every fifth day (please no).
Either way, it represents the latest example of the Giants trying to swiftly separate themselves from their 2023 season. They’ve now traded away three of their worst players from the year — Stripling, Mitch Haniger, and Anthony DeSclafani. They’ve also let plenty of players walk ... hey, wouldn’t you know it, Stripling and Alex Wood are teammates again!
Salary and roster relief may have been the driving forces of this trade, but the Giants got an interesting player in Cox, a 22-year old right-handed hitter from Oral Roberts. The Giants have pledged to get more athletic and Cox very much helps them there, as he’s cut from the Tyler Fitzgerald mold.
Cox — whose father, Darron, played one season for the Montreal Expos — primarily played center field in his debut season, though he also played shortstop in college. Between the Complex League and Low-A, he managed to steal 20 bases in 22 attempts in just 35 games. That’s a nice addition to the system.
Welcome, Jonah. Best of luck, Ross. And do something with that cash and roster spot, Farhan.