Luis González has quickly endeared himself to the SF Giants fan base with his gritty at-bats and clutch hits. He is beginning to look like another solid find by the front office, but it was the move that made him available that made no sense.
SF Giants capitalize on move that absolutely made no sense
The left-handed bat is slashing .337/.374/.471 (138 OPS+) with two home runs, 19 RBI, and 12 runs in 115 plate appearances. This includes a 6.1 percent walk rate against a 17.4 percent strikeout rate. Oddly enough, González has a 10.5 percent walk rate across five minor league seasons, so the ability to draw walks should improve with more experience.
He also has proven to be a good situational hitter as he leads the team with three sacrifice flies. The Giants have to be thrilled with the type of production they have received from the 26-year-old outfielder.
However, it is how he joined the Giants that remains a head-scratcher. González was originally drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft by the Chicago White Sox out of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The outfield prospect debuted with the White Sox in 2020, recording two hitless at-bats. He saw slightly more action in the following season, registering two hits and three walks in eight at-bats.
However, he sustained a shoulder injury midway through last season that required season-ending surgery. Rather than place him on the 60-day injured list, the White Sox decided to designate
González for assignment.
This proved to be an opportunistic move for the Giants by claiming him. Anthony Franco of MLB Trade Rumors explains the move from the White Sox's perspective:
"The move was a cost savings measure on Chicago’s part... To remove González from the 40-man, the ChiSox had to either place him on the major league 60-day IL — where he’d receive MLB pay and service time — or release him... Doing so saved the White Sox from paying the 25-year-old the major league minimum salary for the remainder of the year."- Anthony Franco
This type of move makes some sense if a team is brushing up against the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT), which was at $210 million. Chicago finished last season with a payroll of $174 million against the CBT, so they were not close to any tax penalty. This was strictly a cost-savings move.
The move even makes less sense when you consider that González had two minor league options remaining at the time, so he carried roster flexibility.
The young outfielder wound up with the Giants and he is off to a nice start in 2022. The Giants have found creative ways to bolster the roster and the addition of González seems to be the next in line of that trend.