There’s a point just before the annual July 31st non-waiver trade deadline when desperate teams pull the trigger on the deal that’s directly in front of them. Today’s San Francisco Giants/Boston Red Sox trade definitely has that feel to it.
The Giants traded their MLB-rated #2 minor league prospect, left-handed starter Edwin Escobar, and their #11 rated prospect and potential future closer Heath Hembree to the Red Sox for veteran starter Jake Peavy.
Since San Francisco lost starter Matt Cain to the disabled list a week ago, replacing Cain in the rotation jumped to the very top of their trade deadline needs list.
There’s no doubt Boston got the better end of this deal, but Giants GM Brian Sabean did what had to be done to keep the Giants in contention in the NL West. Many critics of the way this 2014 Giant team is constructed have called for Sabean to just do something, and now he’s done something and the potential exists for the Giants starting rotation to improve.
If the Giants determine that Matt Cain is likely to return this season, the expectation is that starter Ryan Vogelsong will either be moved to the bullpen or be part of a another potential deal.
That just leaves three additional team fixes to bring San Francisco up to speed: a second baseman, another outfielder, and a dramatically improved bench. Of course that’s too much to turn around by the upcoming trade deadline, but the Giants should be able to make at least one of those fixes before next Friday.
Twenty-two year old Edwin Escobar was considered the most MLB-ready pitcher in the Giants’ farm system. He started out looking like a #3-#4 starter, but now projects out to a lefty bullpen arm or a solid #5 starter.
Several years ago Heath Hembree, 25, was seen has the logical successor to closer Brian Wilson, but Hembree’s development has been slow. He appeared in 9 games for the Giants in 2013, pitching 7.2 innings with 12 strikeouts, 2 walks, and 0 runs.
The problem for Escobar and Hembree has been the reticence of Giants management to bring their young players up to the big league team. GM Sabean has an old school attitude about excessively “seasoning” young prospects and keeping players at Triple A Fresno past the time they’ve become MLB-ready.
In 2010 the Giants declined to bring catching prospect Buster Posey to San Francisco after he had posted a combined .947 OPS at Single A San Jose and Triple A Fresno in 2009, then batted .315 in twenty-four 2010 Spring Training games. Finally, in June 2010, the Giants belatedly brought Posey up from Fresno, where he was hitting .349 with a .995 OPS in 47 games.
So Escobar and Hembree likely would have been September call-ups for San Francisco but both had little chance of making the 25 man roster. That will not be the case in Boston. Hembree and Escobar will definitely get a chance to join the big league club and could also be off-season trading chips as Boston rebuilds for 2015.
Jake Peavy replaces bullpen long reliever Yusmeiro Petit in the Giants rotation, and will pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers this Sunday.
Peavy was signed by the White Sox in 2010 to a five year $77 million contract. Peavy makes $14.5 million this season with a player option for $14.5 million in 2015.
The Giants will find out very quickly if getting back to the National League, and AT&T Park’s pitcher-friendly dimensions, will help get the thirty-three year old Peavy return to his 2013 form when he went a combined 12-5 with a 1.147 WHIP for the White Sox and Boston.