Breaking down the Eduardo Nuñez trade, and what comes next for Giants

Breaking down the Eduardo Nuñez trade, and what comes next for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Hug Watch, or more accurately #HugWatch, has become a July tradition on social media. If a guy gets pulled from a game anywhere near July 31, Twitter starts speculating about where he’s headed. 

Rarely if ever has #HugWatch been so clearly captured, though. Bruce Bochy knew before Tuesday night’s game that Eduardo Nuñez might be traded before the end of the night, and in the bottom of the fifth, with his spot coming up, Nuñez was told to grab his bats. Bochy gave him a hug and Nuñez headed down the dugout steps where teammates were waiting to hug a very popular player. 

Nuñez is now a member of the Red Sox. The Giants got two pitchers in return. What does it all mean? Let’s take a spin …

What was the deal? It was officially Nuñez for minor league right-handers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos. Anderson is 22, Santos is 17. Both throw hard. Anderson was No. 18 on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Red Sox prospects list. Santos is viewed as more of a lottery ticket. 

Wait, Nuñez has been a rare bright spot on a bad team. Why trade him? There was some shock on Twitter and at the ballpark, but there really shouldn’t have been. Nuñez was ALWAYS going to get traded. He is a free agent after the end of the year and the Giants had no reason to hold on to him in a potential 100-loss season. They cashed in their most likely trade chip, as they had to. 

Is it a good return? On the face of it, yes. There wasn’t a huge market for Nuñez, especially after the Yankees traded for Todd Frazier, and he’s more a rental utility player than anything else. The Giants seem to have gotten a couple of interesting arms back, and that’s all you can ask for. Anderson was a third-round pick in the 2016 draft, and the Red Sox moved him to starting as a four-pitch guy with a plus fastball. He has a 3.99 ERA and has held opponents to a .236 average. Per, he has ramped it up to 96 mph in the past. He entered their Giants prospect list at No. 17, one spot ahead of Kyle Crick. 

“It’s four pitches and a plus fastball,” GM Bobby Evans said. “That’s a lot to work with and he’s already off to a good start. We found him to be very impressive with his mechanics, delivery and stuff.”

Anderson is probably headed to High-A San Jose, where the Giants will limit his innings a bit because he’s taken a jump to starting. Santos is much further away, but it’s a live arm, per scouts. 

“We’ve seen him in the Dominican Summer League,” Evans said of Santos. “He has a plus fastball. There’s a lot to dream on.”

These guys won’t be part of the 2018 team or even 2019. But the Giants needed arms in their system, and they got a pair. 

Does Anderson have a Twitter? Yes! 

What comes next at third base? Bruce Bochy sure seemed to indicate that Jae-gyun Hwang will be back this weekend to face three Dodgers lefties. Hwang technically can’t be called up because you have to spend 10 days back in the minors, but if the Giants put a player on the DL, Hwang can be a replacement. Expect a Giant, probably a pitcher, to come down with IT Band Syndrome or a tight back on Friday. 

What about Pablo Sandoval? He is not ready, and Bochy said he won’t be the move. But the expectation has been that Sandoval will be up in a week to 10 days, so he could be added to the roster when the Giants return home next week. He hit a double last night but the rest of his at-bats have been pretty light. 

What about Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo? Arroyo is back in Arizona rehabbing after having surgery on a fractured hand, and he hopes to get back in late September. Jones is back in a groove in Sacramento. He certainly deserves a second shot. Maybe in September? 

Speaking of injuries, what would have happened if Nuñez had gotten hurt last night? He got hit by a pitch as the trade was going through! “I told him,” Bochy said, “Hey, you can’t get hurt now.” Bochy kept a close eye on him. Nuñez was fine. 

Bochy likes Nuñez. Nuñez likes San Francisco. Can he come back? He can, and he might. Nuñez told me a couple of weeks ago that he loves playing here and wouldn’t hold it against the Giants if he were traded. They can call him in November and check on the price. There’s a chance they have a reunion in the offseason, kind of like what the Yankees did with Aroldis Chapman. 

Should he come back? Well, depends on the role. Nuñez is a nice piece of a good team, a guy who hits for average, displays versatility, and has speed. But defensively, the numbers showed him to be an issue in left and not great at third, and the Giants internally agree. He's also more of an average guy than a power guy, and the speed doesn't play when his hamstring is tight. Plus, they have bigger holes, and they probably should let Arroyo and Jones fight it out for the starting job at third next spring. Having said that, Nuñez certainly holds a lot of value as a guy who can play all over the field. If the Giants can bring him back as a utility guy, it’s a nice fit. They probably should not pay to bring him back as an everyday third baseman. 

What’s next for the Giants? Evans met with reporters for about 15 minutes and didn’t hint at anything big. He said he is not under orders to cut payroll and the front office still wants to try and win in 2018. Plus, this is a terrible time to be trying to trade starting pitchers. 

“It’s a buyer’s market, which may not be the best time to advance those discussions,” Evans said. 

Expect a quiet weekend, although Evans will continue to work the phones to see if he can make a splash. The bigger moves are expected to come in the offseason, when the Giants will have 29 teams to deal with and can more easily part with members of their core.  

Logan Webb looks to make a statement at end of rookie season


Logan Webb looks to make a statement at end of rookie season

ATLANTA -- Logan Webb smiled Sunday afternoon and said he has adjusted to facing players he grew up watching. No longer does he stand on the mound and think, "Holy cow, I'm facing Manny Machado." But Webb can still get wide-eyed at times. 

The 22-year-old knows that plenty of former Giants are coming into town next week to celebrate Bruce Bochy, and he said he hopes to meet Jonathan Sanchez or Pat Burrell or ...

"Maybe Timmy?" Webb asked reporters. 

Lincecum hasn't shown up at the park in years, but the Giants are quietly optimistic that he will next weekend. If No. 55 does enter the clubhouse, Webb won't just be a fan. He'll be part of the process, a 22-year-old rookie set to face the Dodgers during Bochy's final series as manager. 

"I'm excited to see all the other stuff and take it all in," Webb said. "There are not many guys like (Bochy) who come around."

Webb has gotten to make seven starts for Bochy and Sunday's was the best. He limited the NL East champion Braves to two hits and one run over a career-high six innings. The Giants won 4-1 in Bochy's final road game. 

"I felt like today I was finally able to put it all together," Webb said. "I've got a lot more work to do but I felt a lot more confident and had command of all my pitches."

Webb mixed it up well, throwing 51 fastballs, 21 slurves and 18 changeups. He got 13 swinging strikes and had the Braves off balance all afternoon. Bochy said Webb is more polished than he anticipated.

"He's known for kind of a power sinker, but I think he's just getting better and better with his secondary pitches," Bochy said. "They're better than I thought. He's got a good breaking ball and changeup. He's got the weapons and arsenal to pitch up here because he's got command, too."

Webb walked two on Sunday and has issued two-or-fewer free passes in six of his seven starts. That command, plus the raw stuff, has kept him in the rotation after a promotion in mid-August. A season that was extremely trying early on is ending on a high note, and Webb hopes to keep it going. He's well aware that every pitch he throws is another chance to impress a front office that will look to build a strong rotation this winter. 

"I think all the young guys, that's what we're hoping to do," Webb said. "Obviously you want to do well for now, but we also set ourselves up for the future as well."

Ex-Giants slugger Adam Duvall still hitting for power in new Braves home


Ex-Giants slugger Adam Duvall still hitting for power in new Braves home

ATLANTA -- It has slowed over time, but for a couple of years, Adam Duvall was The One Who Got Away for much of the Giants' fan base.

An organization that's had decades of trouble developing homegrown outfielders traded Duvall to the Reds and watched him hit 64 total homers in 2016 and 2017, and make an All-Star team. Duvall was far from Oracle Park, but as he broke through in Cincinnati, he was aware that fans grumbled about the deal.

"I have extended family [in the Bay Area] and they would talk about it," he said Friday. "I got an opportunity with the Reds to get a lot of playing time. For being a young guy, that was good for me to get some playing time and show what I could do."

The mistake the Giants made wasn't necessarily underestimating the power -- Duvall always had hit homers in the minors, including 30 in a season with High-A San Jose. The Giants simply didn't believe he could handle left field, and with Matt Duffy at third, they included Duvall in a 2015 deadline trade for Mike Leake. They wanted more consistent starting pitching. It didn't work out that way. 

Duvall's run in Cincinnati ended last year, when the home-run power wasn't enough to make up for a .205 average and .286 OBP. But he has found a role with the Braves, starting 23 games in the outfield and posting a .863 OPS. His homer against his old team Saturday night was his ninth in 103 at-bats for the NL East champs.

[RELATED: Cueto frustrated by his outing in Giants' loss]

The Braves clinched Friday night against some players Duvall considered mentors. Before Friday's game, Duvall said he's grateful for the work the Giants did in preparing him for the big leagues. He pointed to Buster Posey and Ryan Vogelsong -- who is coaching with the Giants this weekend -- as two former teammates who were particularly helpful. 

"That was a big, big part of my career when I first got introduced to playing in the big leagues," Duvall said. "They were a very professional group."