Giants acquire OF prospect Cox from A's for Stripling

February 2nd, 2024

The Giants cleared a spot on their pitching staff by sending veteran right-hander Ross Stripling and cash considerations to the A’s in exchange for outfield prospect on Friday.

Giants get: OF Jonah Cox
A’s get: RHP Ross Stripling, cash

Stripling, 34, was expected to be a key rotation piece last year after signing a two-year, $25 million deal with the Giants in December 2022, but he went 0-5 with a 5.36 ERA over 22 appearances (11 starts) while dealing with back issues and homer-prone tendencies. He surrendered 20 long balls over 89 innings this past season, resulting in the NL's fifth-highest rate of home runs per nine innings (2.02).

Even with Alex Cobb (left hip surgery) and Robbie Ray (Tommy John surgery) expected to open the season on the injured list, Stripling wasn’t guaranteed a rotation spot heading into the 2024 campaign. The Giants have expressed a desire to give more starting opportunities to young pitchers such as Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck.

San Francisco has even more depth coming up the farm system. Pitchers who could break into the Majors this year include left-hander Carson Whisenhunt, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Giants' No. 3 prospect, and right-handers Mason Black (No. 9), Trevor McDonald (No. 22) and Kai-Wei Teng.

“A lot of it is our continued enthusiasm and excitement about the young pitchers who we’ve referenced a lot coming up through the upper levels,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a phone interview Friday. “A lot of them have been at Papago [Player Development Complex] since the beginning of January, so we have a really good sense of where they are and where they’re trending to start the season.

“We wanted to create more avenues for some of that group to get opportunities in the rotation, especially early in the season. So that was a big driving force behind the move. We expect Strip to bounce back and pitch well in ’24. We know that last year didn’t go the way that he expected or planned. It was a combination of circumstances. We think he’s going to do really well in Oakland.”

Here’s a look at how San Francisco’s rotation could line up at the start of the season:

The Giants are sending $3.25 million to the A’s to help cover Stripling’s $12.5 million salary this year, leaving them with $9.25 million to potentially allocate to other areas of need on the roster. Reigning NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery are among the free-agent starting pitchers who remain unsigned with less than two weeks to go to Spring Training, but Zaidi reiterated that Friday’s trade isn’t necessarily a precursor to another rotation addition.

“This move wasn’t made with the thought to sort of tandem it with some backfill move in the rotation,” Zaidi said. “I guess I wouldn’t rule out something happening there, but there are no plans for that, as of now.”

If the Giants opt not to supplement a rotation that lacks much certainty outside of Webb, the Giants could focus their efforts on bolstering their lineup. Matt Chapman, Cody Bellinger and J.D. Martinez are among the top remaining free-agent hitters.

In Oakland, Stripling will reunite with former Giants and Dodgers teammate Alex Wood, who also finalized a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the A’s this week. Friday’s move marked the first player-for-player deal between the Bay Area clubs since the Giants acquired Darren Lewis and Pedro Peña from the A’s in exchange for Ernest Riles in 1990.

Jonah Cox stays ready in the dugout during a 2023 Arizona Complex League game.Jerry Kime/MiLB

Cox, 22, was the A’s sixth-round Draft pick in 2023 and ranked as the club’s No. 28 prospect. A product of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., Cox had a slash line of .287/.366/.403 with two home runs, 15 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 145 plate appearances between Oakland’s Rookie-level Arizona Complex League team and Single-A Stockton last year.

The son of former big league catcher Darron Cox, Jonah possesses above-average speed and is viewed as a basestealing threat who could develop into an asset in center field.

“He’s a familiar name that popped out at us as we were going through the A’s system,” Zaidi said. “Really good athlete, can really run, can really play center field. He’s not coming from one of the bigger college conferences, so expect some adjustment with the bat. But he had an outstanding ’23 college season. We think with a little bit more adjustment to pro ball, the bat can come along, as well.”