On Tuesday, the Giants traded for Yankees outfielder Mike Tauchman in exchange for left-handed reliever Wandy Peralta and a player to be named later. Who in the farm system is this trade going to affect?
The two players most clearly affected by this are LaMonte Wade Jr and Steven Duggar. Center field was a position of weakness for the Giants, partially because their starting center fielder was also the backup shortstop, another position of weakness. So the Giants tried a lot of players out there.
Wade was brought in from Minnesota as an option, but struggled over spring training as he worked on some swing adjustments. He got a brief callup in mid-April, going 2-for-6 with a double, but it seems the Giants aren’t confident in him. Duggar is entering his fourth year at the Majors and has just been unlucky with injuries, and it’s led to inconsistency, and he’s again failed to grab a hold of his chance this season.
Tauchman won’t challenge Mike Yastrzemski for his starting spot, but there’s not a lot of assuredness elsewhere among the guys in the Majors right now. Even for another part-time center fielder, Austin Slater, whose role is as a lefty-masher, Tauchman’s best year (2019) showed him with a significant reverse split, so even Slater may be challenged by this new outfielder.
The loss of Wandy Peralta does right away take away from a position of strength in the bullpen, lefty relievers, one of four that the Giants had in their bullpen, although the Giants addressed that on Wednesday by calling up another lefty reliever, Sam Selman, as Yastrzemski went on the injured list. Selman had a 3.72 ERA in 24 games in 2020.
One of the lefties, however, is Caleb Baragar, who has mysteriously been lightly used and hasn’t been used since Wednesday the 21st. As the Giants have turned to very young relievers instead in spots, particularly two right-handers, with mixed results (leading directly to two losses), it has to be asked why the Giants have Baragar on the active roster if they aren’t using him. Trading one of the trusted lefties ahead of him could either give him new opportunities, or push the Giants to make a move to replace him with someone who they will use, and option Baragar down.
Another lefty that could get a chance if Selman doesn’t work out is another free agent, Phil Pfeifer. Pfeifer, 28, is another Vanderbilt pitcher and hasn’t made his major league debut yet, but had a 2.97 ERA in 2019 across High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. With experience in the Braves alternate camp in 2020, and also being a Dodger draftee in 2015, makes him an ideal Zaidi favorite.
If the opening in the bullpen is better served by a right-hander, and it very well might be, Dominic Leone has been getting used a lot in the Alternate Camp, and had a 1.04 ERA. Leone had a tough year in Cleveland last season, and seems ready for a bounce back. Zack Littell, and his very impressive beard, didn’t have the best spring, but has also been looking strong in the Alternate Site, and has major league experience coming from Minnesota, including an excellent year in 2019.
The biggest question remains the player to be named later, but it’s also the smallest. Tauchman was an extra outfield that the Yankees didn’t have much room for, which likely means that the Giants didn’t have to give up too much for him. Peralta was already a pretty solid return. It’s likely that whomever is named will be a low-level prospect with upside, the so-called lottery ticket. But it shouldn’t have a big effect on the farm system, whomever it is.