Joe looking to earn roster spot with Giants

March 23rd, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The last 24 hours have been a bit of a whirlwind for .

After spending the bulk of Spring Training in Reds camp, Joe learned on Thursday that he’d been traded to the Giants in exchange for Minor League right-hander Jordan Johnson and cash considerations. Joe made his debut by going 0-for-3 and starting in left field in San Francisco's 6-4 win over the Rockies on Friday.

“I was just trying to go about my business to become a better baseball player every day and work to prepare myself for the season, wherever that may be,” Joe said before Friday's game. “I got the news yesterday, and I’m thrilled for this opportunity.”

Joe, originally a first-round pick by the Pirates in the 2014 MLB Draft, can play first, second and third base as well as the corner outfield spots. The Reds were also having Joe catch bullpen sessions this spring, though he has not caught in a game since his days at the University of San Diego.

Thursday’s trade marked the second time that Joe has been acquired by president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who also traded for the versatile 26-year-old two years ago when he was general manager of the Dodgers. Joe, a right-handed hitter, spent last season in Los Angeles’ farm system and batted .299 with a .935 OPS and 17 home runs in 106 games between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City.

“He’s seen me play for a full year,” Joe said. “I believe he’s aware of my capabilities and my skill set as a player. It’s good to have people like that behind you and on my side.”

The Reds plucked Joe from the Dodgers in December’s Rule 5 Draft, two spots before the Giants selected left-hander Travis Bergen. Joe’s Rule 5 provisions will continue to apply with the Giants, meaning he’ll have to be kept on the 25-man roster for the entire regular season or be offered back to the Dodgers for $50,000.

“He’s a right-handed bat that had a nice year last year,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I know he’s been on our radar, as far as the Rule 5 selection. He didn’t get to us. He had to deal with some injuries early in his career, but it looks like he’s gotten on track. Versatile player that gives us another right-handed bat. It’s something we need.”

Joe’s defensive versatility and his ability to get on-base are skills that are highly valued by Zaidi, making him a likely bet to make the Opening Day roster. Joe's arrival muddles things for Pablo Sandoval, who could be squeezed out of a bench job if the Giants choose to keep Joe and Alen Hanson, who is out of options.

If Joe is on the Giants’ roster come Opening Day, he could have the opportunity to make his Major League debut in his hometown of San Diego. Still, he said he isn’t allowing himself to think that far ahead yet.

“I really try not to, honestly,” Joe said. “There’s still a long week ahead of us, and obviously, I still have to perform. I still have to make this team.”

Meanwhile, in Surprise ...

Madison Bumgarner started the Giants’ other split-squad game, a 15-3 loss to the Royals at Surprise Stadium on Friday night, and the lefty yielded seven runs on 10 hits over two innings in his final tuneup before Opening Day. Bochy said Bumgarner is fine physically, though he had not yet spoken to the coaching staff about his outing.

“It looked like we gave up a lot of runs down there,” Bochy deadpanned. “That’s all I know.”

Andrew Suarez gave up four runs on seven hits over four innings, while Trevor Gott continued his strong spring by working another scoreless inning. Gott, who is out of options, has not allowed an earned run in 9 2/3 Cactus League innings.

Bart sent down

The Giants reassigned top prospect Joey Bart to Minor League camp on Friday. Bart, who is expected to open the season at Class A Advanced San Jose, impressed in his first big league camp, batting .350 (7-for-20) with one home run and seven RBIs over 15 Cactus League games.

Worth noting

• Chris Stratton allowed two runs over 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies. Stratton, who posted a 4.60 ERA this spring, is out of options and he is likely in the mix for a job as a long reliever or swingman.

“Not exactly how I’d draw it up, but I went out there and competed with what I had,” Stratton said. “I’m not going to lose any sleep tonight.”

• Tony Watson, Will Smith and Mark Melancon each delivered scoreless innings against the Rockies. The showing was particularly encouraging for Melancon, who lowered his spring ERA from 11.12 to 9.45.

“Really good to see him go out there and throw the ball like that,” Bochy said.

Up next

Left-hander Derek Holland will make his final start of the spring at 1:05 p.m. PT on Saturday when the Giants host the D-backs in their Cactus League finale at Scottsdale Stadium. Left-hander Robbie Ray is scheduled to pitch for Arizona.