Trade season is in the air and the SF Giants will likely be in the market for a right-handed bat. One move that could help them in that area is Miami Marlins outfielder Garrett Cooper.
SF Giants: Garrett Cooper would bolster the lineup
As a team, the Giants have slashed .237/.327/.412 with only 34 of their 116 home runs against southpaws. These are respectable numbers but there is room for improvement.
When the season began, the Giants anticipated leveraging Mauricio Dubón and Austin Slater against left-handed pitching. However, Dubón and Slater have posted a .706 OPS and .711 OPS, respectively, against lefties in 2021. In the case of Dubón, he might not be a factor anytime soon as he is slated for Triple-A.
It seems apparent that the team’s confidence in both players is waning, meaning a trade might be needed to shore up the lineup against southpaws. It bears mentioning that Evan Longoria should be returning from a shoulder injury soon and he would inject some production into the lineup as he has a 1.264 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2021.
That said, the infield seems relatively set once Longoria, Brandon Belt, and Tommy La Stella return. However, there are a couple of soft spots in the outfield and that is one area the front office can turn its attention.
The Miami Marlins have seemingly signaled their intent to sell with a recent trade that sent Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Joe Panik and a prospect. The best fit for the Giants on the Marlins would be Starling Marte, but a likelier fit would be Garrett Cooper.
The right-handed bat debuted with the New York Yankees in 2017 and made his way to the Marlins through a trade following his rookie season. Since his rookie campaign, Cooper has proven to offer a solid bat as he has slashed .278/.346/.445 (112 OPS+) with 27 home runs and 104 RBI. This includes an 8.2 percent walk rate against a 26.4 percent strikeout rate, so there is some swing-and-miss to his game.
He is not necessarily a platoon hitter as he has posted a .781 OPS against right-handed pitching and an .814 OPS against lefties. The Giants like to leverage platoon matchups, and Cooper would give them an advantage against left-handed pitching but he is the type of hitter who could see regular playing time as well.
In the field, the 31-year-old has played primarily at first base and right field. He has a strong glove at first base but he struggles in right field as he has been worth -7 DRS throughout his career, which is considerably below-average.
However, below-average defense might be a tradeoff that the Giants are willing to make. After all, the defensive metrics (28 DRS, 27 OAA) suggest that they are one of the best defensive teams in baseball. So, adding a below-average defender might be tolerable.
One final factor is cost. Cooper has been worth only 2.5 WAR across five major league seasons and he is due for a raise from his $1.8 million salary in 2021 if the Marlins tender him a contract in the offseason. His salary is not huge but that has to be weighed against his overall value. In terms of a trade, Cooper would likely not cost more than a mid-level prospect to complete a deal.
The Giants definitely need another right-handed bat. Right-handed bat Jaylin Davis was recalled on Thursday and he will see some playing time before the trade deadline. That said, adding a player like Cooper makes sense for the Giants as he has a skill set that they can leverage.