SF Giants release 20 prospects
Last Thursday, the San Francisco Giants joined the rest of baseball in releasing a number of minor league prospects.
The hopes of a minor league season are dim, so the Giants chose to release 20 minor league players to marginally offset the lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chose is the operative word in that last sentence. This was a choice. They did not need to do this, but they did it as a way to cut operating costs.
This has been a tough week for baseball, and the strategy to cut costs by focusing on the minor league labor that struggles to make ends meet is mind-numbing. In essence, they are kicking players while they are already down.
The sweeping cuts that took place across baseball have forced some prospects to remain ready while trying to latch on to another organization when minor league baseball resumes. Meanwhile, the careers of a good chunk of minor leaguers have ended prematurely.
Despite the negativity from this week, there has been a glimmer of hope as well:
The Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins bucked the trend taking place across baseball by choosing not to release any minor league players.
Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore double-downed on this by keeping the big picture in mind when deciding not to cut any minor league talent by recognizing the importance minor leaguers have on growing and passing on the game.
The decision by the Royals and Twins brings up a good question: If these smaller-market teams can support their minor league players, why can’t the bigger markets clubs such as the San Francisco Giants or the Chicago Cubs?
With that being said, the list below represents the cuts on the pitching side made by the Giants on Thursday:
Now, the position players:
Few surprises among SF Giants minor-league transactions
There are few surprises from this list, but perhaps the most notable name is right-handed hurler Garrett Cave. The Giants selected Cave in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Tampa.
The former fourth-round pick battled command issues as he posted a 5.22 ERA with 194 strikeouts and 127 walks across 176 frames since becoming a pro. Cave has always had electric stuff, but less-than-stellar control.
In 2020, he bounced around between starting and relieving, but a permanent move to the bullpen might be the best role for his future.
In addition to this, outfielder Aaron Bond and catcher Matt Winn were mild surprises among the position players who were released.
Bond was selected in the 12th round of the 2017 draft, and he had an encouraging pro debut as he posted a .306/.368/.565 line in 163 plate appearances in the Arizona League.
Roger Munter of There R Giants recently identified Bond as an organizational depth piece with some intrigue:
"“Aaron Bond showed up in the AZL the same summer as Heliot Ramos and instantly gained some attention as an intriguing power-speed combo player. He definitely has both of those, but he also has a swing path that needs some overhaul. He was more or less chewed up by A ball pitchers, hitting just .188 in over 250 PA in parts of two seasons in Augusta. There’s an interesting statue in the stone there but extracting it cleanly may prove impossible.”"
Despite this, Bond’s intriguing tools never translated to the box score as he struggled in the lower minor league ranks. The left-handed bat produced a .185/.298/.370 line in 255 plate appearances in 2020 while splitting time across three minor league levels.
On the same note, Winn being released is a minor surprise as well. San Francisco took Winn in the 14th round of the 2015 draft out of the Virginia Military Institute.
In five seasons since being drafted, the 27-year-old never hit much at the plate as he generated a .218/.299/.390 line in 1,383 plate appearances.
Winn has an impressive 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame while being known for his intangibles behind the plate. Though, he never produced in the batter’s box, Winn had a fan in former Giants general manager Brian Sabean.
It is frustrating that the Giants decided to follow the rest of baseball in reducing the number of minor league players on their payroll. The cost saved from this is minuscule in comparison to the revenue that the Giants generate in a normal year.
While the NBA has seamlessly set a date to resume the season, there continues to be a divide in MLB between the owners and players.
This divide is significant enough that we may not see baseball return in 2020. The decision to cut hundreds of minor league players may be a minor footnote in a year that has seen so much agony around the world.
Baseball gives us a nice, nine-inning stress relief away from life for 162 games each year. It would be a shame for baseball if the owners did not give us a chance to decompress each night, even if for a few games in 2020.
Loyal fans have flocked to the games in droves year-after-year to support their team but also invest in the organization through ticket sales, concessions, and parking to keep it financially solvent. The owners have profited off of this several times over, and allowing baseball to return is the least they can do to show their gratitude.
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