SAN DIEGO — One now, one later, one way later. But the Giants hope all three players acquired Tuesday can help at some point.
In Kevin Gausman, a starter whom they expect to break camp in the rotation, they think they have identified a former top prospect who may have found himself (and his splitter).
In Zack Cozart, they hope a flier on a 2017 All-Star can pay off. Of course, they will pay for it to pay off, as the infielder who has missed most of two seasons with injury will make close to $13 million next season — the reason the Angels signed off on the deal.
The real reason the Giants gave their OK was Will Wilson, a shortstop prospect they debated taking at No. 10 this year, but now have wound up with both Hunter Bishop and the 15th-overall selection.
Add Gausman’s one-year, $9 million (plus incentives) pact, and the Giants spent about $22 million to improve the roster and organization without giving up anything but two roster spots.
First, Gausman, the former Orioles first-round pick who saw some success from 2014-16 but stumbled much of the last two seasons. Last year he struggled through 16 starts with Atlanta, in which he posted a 6.19 ERA. He was better out of Cincinnati’s bullpen but was non-tendered after the year.
The Giants had been tracking the 28-year-old for a while and tried to acquire him during the season. Using more of a splitter Gausman lost then found again last season, the Giants think he’s a candidate for a revival. And if not, he could become another Drew Pomeranz and transition to the bullpen.
“We think some of the adjustments he made in better locating his split late in the year, that’s something he can carry over into the starting role,” Farhan Zaidi said in the Giants’ Winter Meetings hotel suite.
The Giants were not alone in targeting Gausman, who struck out 29 in 22 1/3 innings with the Reds. It’s possible their plan for the righty — and the pitch mix they want to explore — helped secure him.
“A part of our pitch to free agents is often when we see an adjustment that might be valuable for them — to talk about it, to address it head-on,” GM Scott Harris said. “And sometimes that makes us an attractive destination.”
What made the Giants an attractive trade partner for the Angels was their wallet. The Angels, clearing space for a run at Gerrit Cole, cut costs by offloading Cozart, who’s been at times awful and at more times injured the last two seasons.
The 34-year-old righty, who can play all over the infield, is swinging a bat but may not be ready for Opening Day as he recovers from shoulder surgery. Zaidi cited that his All-Star campaign came in his last healthy season, and seemed optimistic Cozart can be a contributor (and potential trade piece) rather than being cut.
Gabe Kapler welcomed Cozart to the organization.
“Every player wants to show they’re healthy,” the manager said after talking to Cozart. “And they want to show when they are healthy, they can be productive and are capable of doing great things.”
Whether Cozart plays or not, the Giants believe Wilson will make the trade worth it. The 21-year-old from North Carolina State will see time at both shortstop and second base this season.
“Offensively, we feel he’s potentially a guy who could hit for average and power,” Zaidi said. “And in terms of defense, even from a metric standpoint, played an above-average shortstop in college.
“I think he definitely stays in the middle of the infield. Just a very skilled player on the defensive side of the ball. And again, very strong makeup reports on him as well.”