The San Francisco Giants turned their relief pitching depth into an upgrade at second base by acquiring Mauricio Dubon from the Milwaukee Brewers at the MLB trade deadline.
The San Francisco Giants were expected to be one of the biggest sellers at this year’s MLB trade deadline. Instead, a big month of July put them in position to search for roster upgrades, and they made one on Wednesday.
In their first major move on MLB trade deadline day, the Giants sent starter-turned-reliever Drew Pomeranz and hard-throwing right-hander Ray Black to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for MLB-ready middle infield prospect Mauricio Dubon.
The Brewers have long made sense as a potential trade partner with the Giants.
Their biggest holes this season have been on the pitching side of things, and that’s where the Giants strengths lie.
Meanwhile, Dubon is blocked on a Brewers roster that has Keston Hiura and Orlando Arcia penciled in as the starting middle infielders. Furthermore, their top minor-league prospect, Brice Turang is a shortstop. At the same time, second base has been a clear hole for the Giants.
Still, it’s fair to call Drew Pomeranz a surprising trade centerpiece.
He was just booted from the Giants rotation after struggling to find any sort of consistency in a starting role. In 17 starts prior to his demotion, he posted a 6.10 ERA and 1.70 WHIP while allowing 17 home runs in 72.1 innings.
However, in a small sample size out of the bullpen, he has been dominant.
In four relief appearances spanning 5.1 innings, he’s allowed just one hit and one walk while racking up eight strikeouts. That was enough to put him on the radar of teams looking for bullpen help and the Brewers pounced.
The other piece in the deal is 29-year-old Ray Black.
While his career numbers leave something to be desired, his stuff is impossible to ignore. His fastball consistently hits triple-digits and he has a power breaking ball that registers some of the highest spin rates in baseball.
Despite his eye-opening repertoire, he’s been far from dominant in the minors, posting a 5.16 ERA with a 5.2 BB/9 rate at Triple-A this year. Granted, he’s also racked up 36 strikeouts in 22.2 innings.
Given the Giants impressive relief pitching depth and the need for middle infield help, both pitchers were easily deemed expendable for a chance to add Mauricio Dubon.
The 25-year-old is an above-average defender at shortstop who has also handled second base well. While the emergence of Hiura made Dubon expendable in Milwaukee, he still has a good chance of becoming a solid MLB contributor.
He was ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Milwaukee’s system by FanGraphs Prospects and he would slot into the No. 7 spot in my Top 30 prospect rankings for the San Francisco Giants, just behind Logan Webb and ahead of Gregory Santos.
With Joe Panik posting a brutal .231/.305/.312 line and -0.5 WAR this season and Donovan Solano best deployed in a utility role, Dubon should have a chance to immediately step into a major role for a contending Giants team.
San Francisco Giants: A
Milwaukee Brewers: C-
I’m actually quite bullish on Pomeranz’s prospects out of the pen. He has looked elite in his four outings. His fastball has consistently touched 96 and he has continued to show his plus curveball.
Giving up a top-five prospect for a pair of relatively unproven relievers would seem like a terrible move for the Brewers on the surface. However, both Black and Pomeranz actually have shown the upside to be game-changers and Black has five years of team control remaining.
Furthermore, while Dubon is a solid prospect, he’s more floor than ceiling. He already profiles as a quality MLB utility man with the ceiling to become an average everyday player. That profile has value, especially to this Giants team in the short-term, but he should not be confused with an elite-level talent.
The Brewers turned a redundant piece into two interesting relievers and the Giants turned two relievers who weren’t throwing high-leverage innings into a controllable middle infielder who can help address arguably the biggest hole on the roster.
With that said, neither Pomeranz or Black is a sure thing, and to give up a top prospect in an already thin system is a risk for Milwaukee.
If this winds up being the only trade that the San Francisco Giants make at this year’s MLB trade deadline, it will have been a good use of their bullpen depth to acquire a controllable asset that can help immediately and going forward.