SF Giants lose former top pitching prospect in trade with the Guardians

Los Angeles Angels v San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels v San Francisco Giants / Tony Avelar/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

As the SF Giants touched down in Cleveland, they completed a deal with the team in the opposing dugout. Spencer Howard was shipped to the Guardians in exchange for cash considerations according to the team's transaction log.

SF Giants lose former top pitching prospect in trade with the Guardians

The Giants added Howard late in the 2023 season to a minor league deal. He began the season with the Texas Rangers but he yielded four earned runs in 3.1 innings before he was shipped to the New York Yankees.

Howard pitched briefly for the Yankees' Triple-A club but he was released at the end of August. He caught on with the Giants in one of those rare, late-season minor league additions. Howard did not make an appearance with the Giants organization before the season finished.

However, he did receive an invite to spring training and made a strong impression in camp before he was reassigned to the minors. With the Sacramento River Cats, the right-handed pitcher tallied a 5.90 ERA with 57 strikeouts against 17 walks in 39.2 innings. The high ERA was due in part to the hitter-friendly nature of the Pacific Coast League.

The Giants added him to the roster at the end of May. At that point, their rotation depth had been depleted to the point where they had to rely heavily on bullpen games. In his short time with the club, Howard was used as a bulk-innings pitcher.

Howard posted a 5.63 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.83 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, and a 1.91 SO/W rate in 24.0 innings with San Francisco. The FIP does suggest that he pitched better than his ERA would indicate. However, it is fair to mention that he pitched with a lot of traffic on the bases as well.

In a bit of a surprise, the Giants placed him on waivers at the end of June to make room for Landen Roupp. Howard did not have any minor league options remaining, so he did not carry any roster flexibility.

The Guardians decided to work out a deal with the Giants to send him to Cleveland. He now joins a Guardians team that leads the AL Central with a 54-32 record.