Aside from making a handful of notable moves at the MLB level, the San Francisco Giants also swapped prospects with the Tampa Bay Rays ahead of the MLB trade deadline.
The Tampa Bay Rays have the best farm system in baseball, and they have some big 40-man roster decisions to make as a result. That no doubt played a part in the prospect swap with the San Francisco Giants on deadline day.
The Rays have always looked like the perfect fit as a trade partner for the Giants.
In the end, the Giants didn’t add a middle infielder and the Rays didn’t add an MLB piece, as I had speculated, but they did swap a pair of prospects before the trade deadline:
Joe McCarthy was once considered a potential first-round talent during his college days at the University of Virginia. However, back surgery and a disappointing junior season caused him to fall to the fifth round of the 2015 draft.
Since the onset of his pro career, staying healthy has continued to be an issue for the left-handed-hitting outfielder.
His calling card today, as it was in college, is his hitting ability.
A fantastic approach at the plate has yielded an on-base percentage of .383 in 1,602 plate appearances over the course of his minor league career.
He has average raw power, but his swing has never been geared to tap into it so the power production has come and gone.
This season, McCarthy’s production has cratered. In 148 plate appearances at Triple-A, he’s batting just .196, albeit with a still respectable .335 on-base percentage.
While his injuries have taken away much of McCarthy’s once above-average speed, he’s still solid defensively both in left field and at first base.
FanGraphs Prospects is highest on McCarthy, comparing him to former New York Yankees prospect and longtime MLB first baseman Nick Johnson. They deemed McCarthy a “role-playing 1B/OF who yields value on par with a low-end regular, assuming he can stay healthy.”
Jacob Lopez didn’t rank on any top prospects lists for the Giants, but he had begun to creep into the sleeper category. The southpaw was drafted by the Giants out of the College of the Canyons in the 26th round of the 2018 draft after he led all JUCO pitchers in strikeouts.
This season, the 21-year-old has made nine starts for the Low-A Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, logging a 3.02 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.
He doesn’t have premium stuff with a fastball that only touches 90 mph according to Giants Prospects, but advanced control, a solid curveball, and a deceptive delivery and arm angle have made him effective this season.
San Francisco Giants: B+
Tampa Bay Rays: C+
I am lower on McCarthy than most. The lack of power, injury history, and severe upper-minors struggles at age 25 make me skittish.
He’s still probably a 40 FV prospect, but his injury history lowers that to a 35+ in my view, taking him out of my top 30 prospects for the Giants. With that said, his track record does leave plenty of reason to believe. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi even mentioned McCarthy as someone who could contribute this season.
Lopez does not have much of a ceiling beyond a LOOGY barring some unexpected change in his repertoire, in which case McCarthy is clearly the superior prospect.
The Rays don’t really deserve much criticism. This is a side-effect of their fantastic player development. McCarthy had to be added to the team’s 40-man roster this winter and he doesn’t fit Tampa’s plans. Lopez isn’t much, but he’s worth a flier.
In a day filled with notable moves at the MLB level, the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays still found time to pull of a swap of minor leaguers. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, comes out on top in this deal in the years to come.