Giants more aggressive than usual in Rule 5 prep

Club makes '40-man roster investment' in prospects Luciano, Matos and Cruz

November 16th, 2022

Shortstop Marco Luciano and outfielder Luis Matos were among the six Giants prospects who were added to the 40-man roster on Tuesday, granting them protection from next month's Rule 5 Draft.

The Giants also shielded right-handers Tristan Beck, Keaton Winn and Jose Cruz and infielder Brett Wisely, who was acquired from the Rays in exchange for Minor League outfielder Tristan Peters on Tuesday.

To clear spots on the 40-man roster, San Francisco designated seven players for assignment: left-hander Jarlín García, right-handers Sam Delaplane and Drew Strotman, catchers Dom Nuñez and Meibrys Viloria and infielders Jason Vosler and Colton Welker. García and Vosler were the most notable cuts, as they both saw big league action with the Giants over the last two years.

García, 29, posted a 2.84 ERA over three seasons in San Francisco, but he endured an up-and-down 2022 campaign and dropped out of a high-leverage role in the bullpen following the arrival of other lefties like Scott Alexander, Alex Young and Thomas Szapucki.

“He’s done a really, really nice job for us over the last three years,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said of García, who was entering his final year of arbitration. “With some of the struggles of the bullpen this year collectively, we just thought it was an opportunity to change the mix. We expect him to get big league interest and be with another big league club pretty quickly.”

With Wisely and Isan Díaz on the 40-man roster, the Giants also had a surplus of left-handed-hitting infielders, making Vosler expendable.

The Giants prefer not to protect Rule 5 Draft-eligible prospects until they’re close to big league ready, but Zaidi said they opted to make a “40-man roster investment” in Luciano, Matos and Cruz, who have plenty of upside but will still need time to develop in 2023.

Luciano, who is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Giants’ No. 1 prospect, appeared in only 57 games with High-A Eugene in 2022 due to a back injury. He will likely open next year at Double-A Richmond and be joined by Matos (No. 3), who is coming off a down year with High-A Eugene but recently earned Arizona Fall League Defensive Player of the Year honors. Cruz, a 22-year-old reliever, hasn’t pitched above Single-A San Jose, but he opened eyes after logging a 2.06 ERA with 86 strikeouts over 52 1/3 innings in 2022.

“Generally, we’re a team that uses our whole 40-man roster aggressively over the course of the season,” Zaidi said. “It makes it a little bit more difficult to manage the rest of the 40-man roster when you’re putting on guys who probably aren’t going to help you in ‘23, or at least not until later in the season. But we just think they come with a lot of ceiling.”

Beck, Winn and Wisely have more upper-level experience, so they could be candidates to contribute to the Giants next year. Beck, 26, logged a 5.25 ERA over 23 appearances (22 starts) between Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento in 2022. Winn, 24, posted a 4.08 ERA over 27 appearances (25 starts) across three levels. He finished the year at Richmond.

Wisely, 23, spent the bulk of the 2022 campaign at Double-A Montgomery, where he hit .274 with an .831 OPS, 15 homers and 31 steals while playing all over the infield.

“A very skilled player,” Zaidi said. “He’s hit for average and power in his professional career, steals bases. Really versatile defensively. He’s even played some shortstop and has done a solid job there. He kind of fits more in the category of someone who we think can help us next year.”

Former first-round Draft pick Hunter Bishop (No. 22), outfielder Jairo Pomares (No. 14), infielder Will Wilson (No. 25) and reliever Nick Avila were among the most notable Giants prospects who were left exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, which will be held on Dec. 7 at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 26-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.