Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Reacting To The Cozart-Wilson Trade

In the words of Hela in Thor: Ragnarok (if you are a MCU fan), oh, I've missed this. How have you been folks? I have missed you all back to my blog. Taking time away from baseball is mostly a good thing for me. In all seriousness, following the sport has been a drag for me. I felt like not enjoying watching actual baseball games but still love to do some film room work and study prospects. In turn, I have watched a lot of football (Packer fan here, I come in peace) and been very busy with work and taking care of my fantasy basketball team where I am currently second and sitting comfortably. And now that everything is popping left, right and center in the baseball world, I felt like it is time to go back. 

I am ending my sabbatical in terms of writing content to comment on the trade that the Giants front office made in the early half of the Winter Meetings: a trade that brought Zack Cozart and 2019 first round pick Will Wilson from the Angels to the Bay Area for cash and the Josh Phegley special PTBNL. It was primarily a cap-freeing move for the Angels as they are gearing up to sign one or two of the big free agents in this very active winter (although they have struck out on Gerrit Cole by the Yankees just slapping their opponents with their wallets). 

The Giants have plenty of room in their threshold to afford salary dump deals with a young, controllable player or a top prospect attached on the trade, and Farhan's crew are doing what I expected from them. I mean, we have to admit, the Giants does not have enough weapons in terms of organization depth and overall talent in their big league roster to compete for a playoff spot. They might flirt with the possibility but overall, the timelines on when the saviors will come (Bart and friends) and signing long-term deals on star FA now but will hinder the organization the flexibility to shape the roster financially by extending those prospects 4-6 years from now because of the cap hit that those big contracts signed now impact the future 40-man roster (yeah, I keep saying cap space, cap hit, cap room when there is technically no salary cap but there is a luxury tax threshold you get it). 

That said, let's focus on the players the Giants received. Both infield prospects, primarily shortstops. Cozart has been banged up for a few years and has struggled to play on the diamond, Wilson is a 2019 first round pick. Eating all of Cozart's remaining contract (just a year left) gives the Giants flexibility to have an even bigger cap room for 2021, just in time for the first wave of new Giants to arrive. But the really savvy move is getting Will Wilson on the deal. 

You will see my full formal report on Will Wilson in my upcoming prospect primer but I can already give you guys everything that I know from what I have seen so far crunching his college and pro numbers and watching his tape. Wilson fits that prototype A's infielders that they love to draft in the past years (productive college infielders with all-around skillset but lacking one loud tool) and I did not come to a lot of shock that the Giants actually considered drafting Wilson at 10 given that Michael Holmes, the amateur scouting director, is from that Oakland Athletics. 

Again, Wilson does not have a single tool that will stand out to him. Instead, he uses everything in his disposal to succeed. His stroke is compact and it feels that there is a different sound off his bat as compared to his fellow draftees. He barrels the ball so well and is mature enough to recognize spin and adjust to breaking balls and square baseballs outside the zone without breaking out of his swing is impressive. He might be too aggressive at time because he knows he can barrel any ball and has one of the better set of extremities (hands and feet) from last year's draft class. He is sneaky strong with quick hands and has quick twitch to have solid or more power in his disposal. 

While not a burner, as he is an average or fringe runner at best, and not having the strongest of arms in the class, his ability to set his feet quickly, position himself in the dirt or the bag and the ability to transfer the ball from glove to hand while doing a really quick one-two step on double plays really impress me. The arm is accurate and I think he can play at shortstop in the big league level if he is asked to but the value will be tremendous if he can play and take advantage of his quick twitch in second, third, in the outfield or even behind the plate where he has some believers that he can play as catcher and he reminds me of superutilityman Chad Pinder.

There have been some qualms because the Giants traded for not one but two shortstops and they still have Crawford handling the position, my man Mo Dubon platooning with him or primarily playing opposite Crawford in the diamond, and the Giants have baby superfreak in Marco Luciano that is primarily a shortstop currently. All I can say to them is for them to grab some Kool-Aid and look at the big picture.

If everything turns out as planned and Dubon, Luciano and Wilson will be success stories defensively, then it is great. But, we know that the most important players in the field are those who play in the middle (catcher, pitcher, shortstop, center fielder) in terms of versatility because they play the toughest positions in the field, especially shortstops and center fielders where a special combination of natural ability, instincts, IQ  and experience is required to play the position. Moving them out of their position is easier than those from second base trying to play short (most second baseman are former shortstops anyways). Those players come from different timeframes: Crawford inching closer towards the sunset, Dubon being just freshly minted to the roster last year, Luciano being so ridiculously young he might need 3 more years to the big leagues and Wilson, being a college draftee, moving through the Minors relatively quickly. The Giants have plenty of time to problem solve the situation and place their best players on the field. You can never have too much shortstop-capable players on the field, right? And remember when the Giants have too many first baseman-worthy players on their depth chart from before to the future? It turned out to still be fluid so far.

Buying a first-round caliber talent, a top-150 to top-200 level of prospect as a matter of fact, is a stroke of genius from Farhan while I think the Angels gave a bit too much in order to just free up more money to make Mike Trout play meaningful baseball games as deep as possible. Giants took advantage of a seemingly desperation attempt from the Angels, bought the services of Kevin Gausman for only a year in order to find his groove back and improve his value. But again, the Giants is not yet good enough to win championships based on their current roster and suddenly destroying the future financial freedom by signing long-term deals. Player development is what should be paramount at this moment over all-in on the win-now, given how good the Giants pipeline has been for the past few years. I think the Giants are not yet done in terms of salary dump deals, maybe getting a player as good as Andrew Benintendi, in which I would be ecstatic for the possibility. 

This is all for me for now. I hope the you enjoy the little article that I put out today and I will discuss everything in my prospect primer in full detail my thoughts on the current regime and everything prospect-related. 

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