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San Francisco Giants: Remembering the Adam Duvall trade

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Adam Duvall #37 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 27, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Adam Duvall #37 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 27, 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Before his star turn this postseason for the Atlanta Braves, and before he was an All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds, Adam Duvall was a member of the San Francisco Giants organization.

The date is July 30, 2015, and the San Francisco Giants have a 56-45 record, leaving them a mere half-game back in the NL West standings.

With Tim Lincecum on the shelf and Ryan Vogelsong demoted to the bullpen, the Giants are in need of starting pitching help, and they zero in on Cincinnati Reds right-hander Mike Leake.

Leake, 27, has put together a strong season in his contract year, going 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 136.2 innings over 21 starts.

On the day before the deadline, the Giants finally pull the trigger on a trade to acquire him, sending right-hander Keury Mella and outfielder Adam Duvall to Cincinnati in the deal.

Mella is a promising young right-hander with a big arm and considerable upside. In fact, he began the 2015 season as the No. 4 prospect in the San Francisco Giants farm system, according to Baseball America.

Duvall is already 26 years old at the time of the trade, so he’s on the older end of the prospect scale, and he has seen just 28 games of MLB action, hitting .192 with 20 strikeouts in 77 plate appearances.

However, his minor league numbers are tough to ignore.

After posting a .959 OPS with 27 home runs in 91 games at Triple-A in 2014, he an .872 OPS with 25 doubles and 26 long balls in his second go-around at the level at the time of the trade.

Leake posted a 4.07 ERA in nine starts with the Giants following the trade, but the team finished with an 84-78 record, missing the postseason in the process.

During the offseason, Leake bolted as expected, signing a five-year, $80 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Meanwhile, Duvall made the most of his change of scenery, slugging 33 home runs while earning a spot on the NL All-Star team in 2016, and then launching another 31 long balls in 2017.

His production dropped off from there and he was eventually traded to the Atlanta Braves at the 2018 trade deadline, where he hit a dismal .132 with 17 strikeouts in 57 plate appearances down the stretch.

Rather than non-tendering him as many expected, the Braves brought Duvall back on a $2.88 million salary, but he was sent to Triple-A to start the season.

Injuries to Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte opened the door for him to step into a significant role down the stretch for a playoff-bound Braves team and he ended up posting a 118 OPS+ with 10 home runs in 130 plate appearances.

That was enough to earn him a spot on the postseason roster, and he’s gone 3-for-7 with a home run and five RBI in four games.

His pinch-hit, two-run home run in Game 2 of the NLDS gave the Braves some breathing room in a 3-0 victory.

Then, his two-run single in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the NLDS off Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez broke a 1-1 tie, en route to a 3-1 victory.

While the trade didn’t end up working out in the San Francisco Giants favor, it made perfect sense at the time with Duvall blocked in Triple-A and Leake filling a clear need in the starting rotation.

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