When the season began, Mauricio Dubón was one of a few SF Giants players who were on the roster bubble. Expanded rosters allowed for the Giants to continue evaluating Dubón, but when the roster size was reduced back to 26 players in May, they would eventually need to make a decision on the middle infielder.
SF Giants trade Mauricio Dubón to Astros for minor league catcher
That decision was made on Saturday as the Giants shipped Dubón to the Houston Astros in exchange for minor league catcher Michael Papierski. The right-handed bat became a popular player among Giants fans, so this is a move that comes with some emotion.
San Francisco originally acquired Dubón at the 2019 trade deadline from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black. This was a move that excited fans as the middle infielder was regarded as a quality prospect.
He showed a good glove on defense at both second base and shortstop early in his Giants career, but he was tasked with learning a new position in center field. The 27-year-old utility player really adapted well to the new position, which give the coaching staff more opportunity to get Dubón into the lineup.
However, the right-handed bat struggled to find consistency at the plate. In parts of four seasons with the Giants, he slashed .259/.302/.396 (89 OPS+) with 15 home runs, 58 RBI, and 63 runs in 522 plate appearances.
With the addition of Thairo Estrada, Dubón struggled to find consistent playing time in 2022. Given that both players were out of options, there was not a lot of roster flexibility between the two so a decision did need to happen.
In 49 plate appearances, Dubón posted a .636 OPS with two home runs and eight RBI but he was swinging a good bat before the trade. He might be able to carve out a niche role with the Astros considering that he has registered an .844 OPS against left-handed pitching since he debuted back in 2019.
On the other side of the trade, the Giants acquired a switch-hitting catcher in Michael Papierski. The 26-year-old prospect was drafted in the ninth round pick in the 2017 draft out of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
He has not reached the majors yet, but he does have experience in the upper levels. The Sacramento River Cats feature a catching tandem of Ricardo Genoves and Jhonny Pereda, but they are light on catching depth in the upper minors outside of these two.
In five minor league seasons, Papierski has posted a .220/.358/.328 line with a 15.6 percent walk rate against a 19.6 percent strikeout rate, so he controls the strike zone in a way that the Giants front office wants to see. In parts of two seasons against Triple-A pitching, Papierski has produced a .722 OPS, which is a respectable line.
The trade creates an opening on the 40-man roster as Papierski was a non-roster prospect for the Astros. It is a tough move for Giants fans, but Dubón might have a better shot of playing time with the Astros. Catching depth was a need and this move achieves that end.