Prior to the trade of Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin, the San Francisco Giants had limited roster flexibility.
The San Francisco Giants were reluctant to play Jackson or Gearrin in any kind of meaningful role. As a result, they held on to these players on the active roster. It created a roster crunch. Trading away Jackson and Gearrin creates some roster flexibility.
Jackson came into this season as the starting center fielder. However, after demonstrating limited range, he quickly found himself on the bench. To make matters worse, Jackson struggled to make contact. He was striking out 35 percent of the time. That is kind of a lot.
With his struggling defense and poor hitting, Bruce Bochy had difficulty in finding a role for him. It became clear Bochy was hesitant to use him as even a backup center fielder. Jackson received a few pinch-hitting at-bats, but it was more of the same.
Despite these struggles, the San Francisco Giants kept him on the roster. They chose not to send him to the disabled list. As a result, Bochy had to navigate around this. He relied heavily on Gorkys Hernandez. Carrying 5 outfielders impacted the infield depth as the Giants were only able to carry 1 backup infielder at any time.
In addition to Jackson, Bochy had difficulty in finding a role for Gearrin. After struggling in several appearances, and allowing a lot of inherited runners to score, it became apparent that Bochy lost confidence in Gearrin. Gearrin was giving up more home runs than usual, so that was a red fled.
The problem is that Bochy was not unable to find a role for Gearrin. So, Gearrin remained mostly unused on the bench. Since the beginning of June, Gearrin completed just over 7 innings of work. That is not a lot of work.
In addition to this, the Giants decided to keep 2 long relievers in the bullpen. This includes Ty Blach and Derek Holland. As a result, the Giants were keeping 8 relievers in their bullpen. However, they were regularly using about 5 or 6 of these relievers.
This roster construction had been sub-optimal. Part of it had to do with having too many veteran contracts on the books. The Giants did not have the flexibility to option most of their roster.
However, the trade of Jackson and Gearrin changes that. The Giants went from a weird roster with a couple unusable pieces to one with a little more flexibility. Trading Jackson and Gearrin enabled the Giants to promote both Steven Duggar and Ray Black.
This not only makes the Giants roster more flexible, but they’re a better fit as well. Both Duggar and Black have skills that better align with what the Giants need right now. As a result, Bochy will not have to manage around using these players.
Also, Black and Duggar have options. This is important. It is not ideal to option prospects if they are struggling. This is not good for their confidence.
However, if the Giants need to add an extra reliever, or someone is hitting well in AAA, Duggar and Black have options to go to Sacramento. They no longer have to keep either Gearrin or Jackson on the roster because they are under contract.
The obvious motive behind this trade was salary relief. It may not be the last trade of this nature. However, the addition of Black and Duggar better fits the needs of the current Giants roster.
And, their options give the San Francisco Giants a little more freedom to add or subtract from the roster that Gearrin or Jackson could not offer. Ultimately, the current Giants roster is better built to win by using the skills from all of its players. This flexibility will be key down the stretch.