The SF Giants may have made one of their worst deals of the decade with the Matt Duffy trade.
The last time the San Francisco Giants appeared in the postseason was in 2016, the same year they traded fan-favorite Matt Duffy to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for pitcher Matt Moore. The team struggled mightily in the second half of that season, so was the Duffy trade to blame?
A recent episode of The Giants Insider Podcast hosted by Alex Pavlovic contains an interview with Giants announcer Mike Krukow and author Joan Ryan examining the role team chemistry plays in a major league clubhouse.
The conversation ranges from Aubrey Huff to Jeff Kent to Barry Bonds, and is well worth a listen, but the discussion also covered Duffy which I found very interesting.
Krukow, Pavlovic, and Ryan all seem to agree that there was a shift in clubhouse chemistry after Duffy was traded. Now, of course, it is easy to say that now considering the team went from having the best record in the league at the All-Star break to one of the worst in the second half, but it is worth examining.
Krukow and Ryan make the case that teams need young guys like Matt Duffy so that older players can almost see the game through younger eyes. Krukow even goes so far as to say it’s like the relationship a parent has with a child, getting to see the world through a younger perspective yet again.
It should be noted that the Giants made a move that seemed to make quite a bit of sense on paper. They needed some starting pitching help behind their top three starters — Madison Bumgarner, and Johnny Cueto — and Jeff Samardzija and Moore made sense as solid starters behind those three.
It should also be noted that Duffy was having a rough 2016. He only hit .253/.313/.358 with four home runs and 21 RBI for the Giants that season and battled some injuries as well.
And while many will remember Moore’s many struggles in a Giants uniform, I will never forget the clutch performance he delivered in Game 4 of the NLDS in 2016, only for it to be squandered by the bullpen.
In all, we will never truly know if things would have been different if the Giants never traded Duffy in 2016. Perhaps trading a fan favorite and, from all accounts, a player favorite really did have unforeseen consequences on the team’s success in the second half, but it is far too easy to second guess when things go wrong.