SAN FRANCISCO -- The coming weeks, months and years will demonstrate whether the Giants' deals for left-handers Matt Moore and Will Smith on Monday shortly before the non-waiver Trade Deadline improved their competitiveness.The more immediate impact of these transactions was one of surprise, which is likely to reverberate this week
SAN FRANCISCO -- The coming weeks, months and years will demonstrate whether the Giants' deals for left-handers Matt Moore and Will Smith on Monday shortly before the non-waiver Trade Deadline improved their competitiveness.
The more immediate impact of these transactions was one of surprise, which is likely to reverberate this week but should vanish once the Giants remind themselves that they're competing for a postseason spot. They entered Tuesday leading the second-place Dodgers in the National League West by two games.
• Giants add left-hander Smith in deal with Brewers
Sentiment aside, the Giants upgraded their starting rotation by adding Moore, whose skills are widely praised, and bolstered their bullpen with Smith, who will attempt to fill the void created by Jeremy Affeldt's retirement.
However, both moves forced the Giants to part with cherished individuals. They sent popular third baseman Matt Duffy, highly rated infield prospect Lucius Fox and Minor League right-hander Michael Santos to Tampa Bay for Moore. San Francisco parted with its top pitching prospect, Phil Bickford, and catcher Andrew Susac to get Smith from Milwaukee.
Thus, within a few short hours, the Giants parted with the reigning Willie Mac Award winner (Duffy) and the organization's Nos. 1 and 4 prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com (Bickford and Fox, respectively). Duffy was expected to return soon from a left Achilles injury; instead, third base will belong to Eduardo Núñez, freshly acquired from the Twins, and Conor Gillaspie.
Duffy, 25, hit .253 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 70 games for the Giants this season. Fox, 19, batted .207 with 12 extra-base hits in 75 games for Class A Augusta. Santos, 21, went 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 10 starts for Augusta.
Duffy is expected to become Tampa Bay's everyday shortstop, his position in college. He'll play alongside All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria, who preceded Duffy as a "Dirtbag" at Long Beach State University. Duffy said that Longoria has already welcomed him to the Rays via text message.
"It was bittersweet," Duffy said of his reaction to the trade. "The group of guys, the coaching staff, the front office, the fans -- everything about San Francisco is first class. It's not an accident why they've been so successful the last 10 years or so."
Giants general manager Bobby Evans, who called yielding Duffy "incredibly difficult," sounded a trifle somber as he discussed the transactions in a conference call.
"We get attached to these guys," Evans said. "Our anticipation from the day they sign is that they'll be a Giant in the big leagues, and hopefully for a long time. This is a very difficult day to see anybody go out the door, much less top prospects and our own Major League player in Matt Duffy. It's emotional, and it's personal.
"The fact is, in ... trying to improve your club, in addition to trying to develop players, you're going to have to sometimes trade players. That's just the stark reality of the game and the business that we're in. I still think this is more of a game than a business, but today it feels a lot more like a business."
The emotional upheaval could continue Tuesday, or when the Giants announce which established, respected veteran right-hander will be replaced in the rotation by Moore -- Jake Peavy or Matt Cain. "That's still to be determined," Evans said.
Both moves reflected the organization's conviction that 21-year-old infielder Christian Arroyo, who's currently with Double-A Richmond and is considered the club's top prospect, will ascend to the Majors sooner than later. The Giants were willing to deal Duffy, who finished second in the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year balloting, as well as Bickford and Fox. However, Arroyo stayed put.
Evans didn't cite a timetable for Arroyo's ascent to San Francisco but said that the Giants "feel very good" about Arroyo's chances to settle somewhere in the infield.
Whenever Arroyo arrives, Moore and Smith should be around. They're both 27 and under club control through 2019. The latter factor may have increased the cost, in terms of players, that the Giants had to absorb. But having them on the roster for multiple seasons "only makes us stronger," Evans said.
Moore, 39-28 with a 3.88 ERA in five-plus seasons with Tampa Bay, is said to be yet another starter who should benefit from AT&T Park's pitcher-friendly dimensions. He's 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA in 21 starts this year, and he's three years removed from a 2013 campaign in which he finished 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts.
Responding to questions in a text message, second baseman Joe Panik summarized the Giants' mixed feelings over losing Duffy and gaining Moore: "Duff was a really good friend of mine, a good ballplayer and a great clubhouse guy. I'm sad to see him go, but what we are getting back in Matt Moore is great. I think we are all excited for what he brings to the table, and I'm excited to start playing behind him."
Smith, 27, fills the Giants' desire for a high-volume strikeout reliever (301 in 274 Major League innings). Oddly, left-handed batters have hit .316 off him this year, compared to .143 for right-handed swingers. But the Giants believe that they can use Smith to neutralize lefties or righties, as Affeldt did. Smith has pitched almost exclusively in setup roles, having converted one save in 216 Major League appearances.
Smith appeared in 78 and 76 games in 2014 and '15, respectively, but was limited to 27 games this year after missing the season's first two months with a torn ligament in his right knee. He went 1-3 with a 3.68 ERA for the Brewers while recording 22 strikeouts in 22 innings.
The Giants had been debating whether Bickford, 21, would fit better as a starter or reliever. He was 5-6 with a 2.71 ERA in 17 starts this year, dividing the season between Class A Advanced San Jose and Augusta. The 26-year-old Susac, who backed up Buster Posey for parts of the previous two seasons, hit .273 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 58 games for Triple-A Sacramento.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Heading to a National League contender with an outstanding defensive backstop in Posey and a pitcher-friendly home park, Moore has landed in an optimal situation as he looks to continue his recent roll (1.99 ERA since June 29). With Duffy going to the Rays, infielder Nunez -- who was dealt to San Francisco last week -- also stands to benefit from this trade. Hitting .295 with 12 homers and 28 steals this year, Nunez should continue to help owners in all leagues while serving as the Giants' regular third baseman.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.