Giants deadline deals stockpile arms for postseason and beyond

By now, Giants fans have gone through the five stages of Matt Duffy trade grief.

The immediate reaction from a loyal fan base is warranted: Bobby Evans could never rid of a fan-favorite, a nimble defenseman, a Willie Mac Award winner, a second-place Rookie of the Year candidate, his fat cat Skeeter.

Remember his game-tying run from second base on a wild pitch in the 2014 NLCS? His unexpected (albeit, rare) power? His opposite field approach? His cute Duffman bat decals?

Duffy was a Giant through-and-through; an underdog turned hero, a player who adapted and thrived.

But now Giants fans have to look beyond the loss, and directly at what their GM has handed over in return.

Starting pitcher Matt Moore is a solid left-handed addition for this contending 2016 team. He adds another southpaw presence behind Madison Bumgarner to a right-hand-heavy rotation.

He’s got potential, an All-Star in 2013 with a 3.29 ERA that propped him up in Cy Young talks. He’s got a 4.08 ERA this year, weighed down by a few rough starts in May and against the Diamondbacks and Orioles in June. His fastball can reach 95 MPH and he’s gone at least six innings in his last 10 starts. He had Tommy John surgery in 2014.

If the Giants were willing to give up Duffy and two prospects — Michael Santos and Lucius Fox — for this one, it means they think Moore will be a consistent force in the back end of the rotation.

The addition goes beyond 2016: Moore’s team-friendly contract gives the Giants security beyond the season. He’s only 27 and will be under the team’s control through 2019 with club options worth $7 million, $9 million and $10 million in those years.

That contract is key given Jake Peavy‘s impending free agency and Matt Cain‘s uncertain future. Moore’s addition clearly means either Peavy or Cain will get the rotation boot. Both have struggled, both have showed promise.

That seems to be the theme for the Giants as this year’s trade window shut: immediate relief in three key areas that double as cheap mainstays.

Will Smith will join the team as another lefty reliever option. He has a 3.68 ERA probably weighed down by a four-run, out-less outing against the Cubs. Other than that, he hasn’t given up more than one run this season.

Smith is an every-inning type of pitcher, workable in matchup situations — oddly, he holds a 1.75 ERA against righties and .316 against lefties, though — and durable. He made 76 appearances last season and a league-leading 78 the year before.

Smith’s long-term appeal, like Moore’s, is his contract and age. The 27-year-old is arbitration eligible until 2020. With Javier Lopez set to be a free agent after this season and Josh Osich experiencing growing pains, the Giants snagged Smith as a consistent left-handed arm in relief that they can control for the near future.

By now you’re probably wondering how a bunch of pitching additions will fill the big shoes Duffy left in the infield. Who’s going to play third?

Bobby Evans assured Duffy the starting job after the Eduardo Nuñez trade. But things change.

Nuñez will get most of the playing time at third, filling the now-need, while Christian Arroyo continues to develop as the future third baseman. 

Take a step back. The Giants filled almost every hole that needed filling as they make this run toward the postseason. The bullpen can work at a higher level with another reliable lefty locked down and and Sergio Romo/Cory Gearrin working the late innings. Hunter Strickland and Derek Law have grown into their roles, too.

The rotation will no longer be a free-for-all after the Bumgarner-Johnny Cueto one-two punch. The hope is that Moore can provide a little more certainty.

They didn’t add any outfield depth, something they’ve needed for years, but the emergence of Mac Williamson could be a benefit there. Still, there were no additions made to shore up Angel Pagan‘s impending free agency.

The Duffy trade will be a tough one to swallow. The Giants just gave away bobbleheads in his likeness. But he was struggling through a sophomore slump — batting .253 with 21 RBI — before straining his achilles. Baseball is business.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.