Casey McGehee designated for assignment: What does it mean for the San Francisco Giants? (UPDATED)
Though he’s statistically been the Giants’ weakest link, no one expected Casey McGehee to get the axe this early in the season.
The surprising move signals a failed engagement—albeit on a one-year deal—for San Francisco, and a shift from Bruce Bochy’s philosophy of sticking with veteran players through thick and thin.
But that’s exactly what happened on Sunday, as San Francisco designated the struggling third baseman for assignment. With several dominoes in play, here’s what it means for the team moving forward.
McGehee’s homecoming could be coming to an end
Update: Tuesday, May 26 at 1 p.m. PST
It looks we we may be seeing Casey McGehee in the future after all:
—End of Update—
McGehee, a Santa Cruz county native, couldn’t put it together at the plate or in the field in his month-and-a-half in a Giants uni, ending his tenure batting just .200 with a league-high 12 GIDPs. As a result, he’s now been DFA’d, which means there is a 10-day period for the 32-year-old to be claimed by a team (unlikely), traded (unlikelier) or accept a demotion to Triple-A (possible).
Stomaching the assignment would be a big hit to McGehee’s ego, and more importantly, probably isn’t the best option for him career-wise. It would be tough to see him coming back up anytime soon barring an injury, and some MLB team could take a flier on him for the minimum.
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Finance and family are ultimately the two most important things under consideration, according to what McGehee told Andrew Baggarly: “When I’m here I try to play for the team and do what the team asks, but as far as life, you’ve got another team you’ve got to consider and that’s your wife and your kids.”
Matt Duffy is the team’s starting third baseman
With McGehee’s departure, the Giants tossed the keys to Matt Duffy, whose done all he can in a small sample size to prove he deserves the everyday job at third.
In addition to slashing .299/.330/.402 on the season, flashing power no one thought him capable of, the 24-year-old has driven in 19 (third-most on the team) without everyday playing time. He’s also picked it pretty clean at the hot corner (.983 fielding percentage) despite it not being his natural position.
With that said, it’s debatable as to whether Duffy is the long-term answer at third, something the Giants have been rumored to be after. Most view him as more of a stopgap, but he will have the chance to make his case nonetheless.
Fun fact: The team’s starting infield is now 100 percent homegrown. You don’t see that everyday.
Hunter Strickland is staying with San Francisco
Though he was technically sent back down after Saturday’s doubleheader, Hunter Strickland will remain with the club going forward.
Despite the rotation’s recent brilliance, Bochy made it clear that he feels the bullpen has been burning itself out a man down, and Yusmeiro Petit getting his first swing-start over the weekend didn’t help matters.
To his credit, Strickland has been electric for the Rivercats, striking out 25 in 21 2/3 innings with a 1.66 ERA and .785 WHIP. More importantly, he’s surrendered zero big flies in a homer-happy Pacific Coast League.
His first MLB appearance of 2015 was a good one: three strikeouts in two shutout innings at Coors. Not like he didn’t have a little added incentive, though:
Travis Ishikawa is probably the next to go
Update: Monday, May 25 at 12 p.m. PST
—End of update—
With Strickland sticking around and McGehee gone, veteran Travis Ishikawa is essentially left without a roster spot.
Joaquin Arias will be needed for backup duties in the infield, and while there’s a chance that Justin Maxwell could be on the chopping block considering his recent regression, he’s likely secured his place on the team with strong play both ways.
If Ishikawa isn’t reinstated on Monday, he too will be designated for assignment. Unfortunately for the Giants, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t clear waivers with respect to his bargain salary ($1.1 million) and ability to play multiple positions.
The Giants know they can’t mess around this year
Circling back to the McGehee break-up, it’s clear the Giants have a greater sense of urgency than in years past when it comes to winning now.
With the Dodgers pacing the division yet again and two other teams legitimately in the race, San Francisco knows it can ill afford another dry spell like it suffered in April. Even if Duffy doesn’t pan out, cutting ties with McGehee shows the team isn’t going to sit idly by if something (or someone) is holding the team back.
While showing good faith in veteran players has brought them success in the past (remember Edgar Renteria?), moves like this and the Hector Sanchez-Andrew Susac swap show that the Giants are willing to shake things up in order to keep the momentum going.