On Tuesday evening, the Giants traded away their starting third baseman in exchange for a pair of pitching prospects.
When Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy was forced to pull Eduardo Nuenz from Tuesday’s game in the fifth inning, Bochy was left with one third baseman on his 25-man roster, Conor Gillaspie.
Though Gillaspie played third base for the remainder of the Giants’ 11-3 win over the Pirates, Bochy said that Gillaspie won’t have an everyday role for the Giants moving forward. While Bochy inserted Gillaspie into the lineup for Wednesday’s game, he said that the Giants will likely make another transaction on Friday.
“No, I’m not going to say that,” Bochy said, when asked if Gillaspie would start regularly. “He’ll probably get some starts but we’ll still use him off the bench and probably have another move coming up here Friday. Not sure exactly what it is but there will be another move then.”
Gillaspie is a left-handed hitter and a career .204 hitter against left-handed pitching, and one of the reasons Bochy plans on making another transaction is because San Franicsco will face three lefty starters in Los Angeles this weekend. Though the Giants are 24 games under .500, Bochy still wants to give his team the best possible chance to win, and said he’d like to have a right-handed hitting first baseman this weekend.
“Yeah, I do,” Bochy said. “I think it’s going to be important that we do have a right-handed hitting third baseman.”
The Giants have two third basemen waiting in the wings with AAA Sacramento, but there’s no obvious transaction for San Francisco moving forward. That’s because 29-year-old Jae-gyun Hwang was optioned to AAA on Saturday, which means he can’t return to the Giants’ roster for 10 days, barring an injury to a player on the team’s 25-man roster.
It’s also because the Giants –at least temporarily– appear unwilling to rush Pablo Sandoval back to the Major League level. Sandoval signed a Minor League contract with San Francisco on Saturday, but Bochy indicated the Giants want to see Sandoval get 40-to-50 at-bats before making a decision on whether to promote him.
“I’d say he (Sandoval) needs some playing time so no, I don’t see that happening to be honest,” Bochy said. “We’re seeing three lefties, I don’t know how many right-handed swings he’s had but I would think it would be important for Pablo to get some more playing time down there at third base to make sure he’s in the right condition too.”
One of the options Bochy does have at third base for the weekend is utility player Kelby Tomlinson, who’s played 11 career games at third base and can play every spot in the infield. Tomlinson is a right-handed hitter who has a career average above .300 against lefties, but Bochy said he’ll likely remain in a utility role for the remainder of the season.
“Kind of how I’ve been using him to be honest,” Bochy said, when asked about Tomlinson’s role. “Move him around. Right now with Nuni gone, he’s our shortstop behind Crawford, play some third, mix him out in left field like I did. Kind of do the super utility role. He can play second, great double switch guy because he can give you a lot of options.”
With Nunez on his way to Boston, San Francisco had its first opportunity to make a transaction that would help the team shore up its current situation at third base. However, instead of adding an infielder, the Giants purchased the contract of 28-year-old outfielder Carlos Moncrief from AAA Sacramento, in large part because San Francisco had just three outfielders on its roster.
“It is, it gives us another experienced outfielder and a guy that’s been doing a nice job down there,” Bochy said. “He’s earned this with the role that he’s had down there is going to be similar to what he’s going to do here. Maybe a spot start, but pinch hitting, the numbers pinch hitting are good, a left-handed bat that we can use coming off the bench and we didn’t really want to go somewhere else and have somebody sit.”
So while there’s no obvious move for the Giants in the short-term, if for whatever reason San Francisco needs to place a player on the disabled list, Hwang could make his way back to the Major Leagues in time for the series in Los Angeles. If not, though, Bochy and the Giants could be looking for a short-term fix from a right-handed bat waiting in the minors.