Giants

Don't anoint the Giants winners in the McCutchen trade just yet

Don't anoint the Giants winners in the McCutchen trade just yet

It’s almost like the San Francisco Giants wanted to keep their second biggest player acquisition of the off-season a secret.

But evidently it wasn’t a holiday for them, or for the housecleaning Pittsburgh Pirates, who having just rid themselves of pitcher Gerrit Cole for some odds and ends in the Houston system have agreed to a deal that sends center fielder Andrew McCutchen to the Giants, presumably in exchange for a package that includes pitcher Kyle Crick and may also involve minor league outfielder Brian Reynolds.

McCutchen, a significant force in the game until 2015, comes to a huge outfield that sits on power hitters, but he is also coming from a bit of a bounceback season in which all his various WARs, OPS+ and traditional offensive metrics all rose as his defensive range diminished (well, he is 31).

He is also a qualified rental, as his digestible $14.5 million salary in 2018 ends with him as an unrestricted free agent, so the Giants will only have him for one season unless he (a) falls in love with the team, (b) the town, or (c) plays well enough to stay but not well enough to get a better offer.

He will likely play right field while Hunter Pence moves to left and a gaggle of potential, led by Austin Slater, tries to tackle the vast gerrymandered spaces of center field.

Salary-wise, he takes the Giants to $191M (including the Matt Cain buyout), allowing them no more real headroom on the luxury threshold. In other words, the shop is closed until the team can match dollar for dollar.

But he adds another big name from the recent past to go with new third baseman Evan Longoria, and makes the Giants incrementally younger (he is two years and 222 days younger than new Tampa Bay Ray Denard Span). Thus, the Giants have improved themselves in talent and birthdays at the cost of a bit more than $5 million in salary. We shall learn in six months who got the better end of this exchange – the Giants, or Not The Giants.

Giants can't solve Richard as winning streak comes to an end

Giants can't solve Richard as winning streak comes to an end

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Clayton Richard pitched three-hit ball over six innings for his fourth consecutive win and the San Diego Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2 on Friday night.

Eric Hosmer and Manuel Margot each had two hits and two RBIs as the Padres snapped a five-game skid. Travis Jankowski and Cory Spangenberg added two hits apiece.

Richard (7-6) was dominant in his third start against the Giants this season. He retired 17 straight during one stretch, allowed only two runners past second base and struck out four. The four consecutive wins mark a career high for the left-hander.

San Diego's bullpen made Richard's performance hold up, but it was dicey at times.

Padres manager Andy Green used three relievers to get out of the seventh. Kirby Yates allowed a leadoff single in the eighth before setting down the next three. Brad Hand retired all three batters he faced in the ninth.

Gorkys Hernandez doubled twice off Richard.

San Diego scored the go-ahead run in the sixth on a throwing error by catcher Nick Hundley.

Spangenberg slid into first base with an infield single after initially being called out. After Freddy Galvis singled Spangenberg to third, Hundley blocked a wild pitch by starting pitcher Chris Stratton but threw the ball into center field, allowing Spangenberg to score. Margot followed with an RBI single.

Sandoval's two-out single in the seventh off Craig Stammen trimmed San Diego's lead to 3-2 before the Padres scored three in the ninth.

Stratton (8-5) allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres:Austin Hedges (elbow tendinitis) continues to make progress in his rehab start with Triple-A El Paso and could rejoin the team soon. The Chihuahuas are playing a series against San Francisco's affiliate in Sacramento, about 80 minutes north AT&T Park.

Giants: The team is undecided what the next step will be for Jeff Samardzija after the right-hander gave up four runs in four innings with Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday. Manager Bruce Bochy said it's possible Samardzija will make at least one more rehab start before rejoining the big league club.

UP NEXT

RHP Jordan Lyles (2-4, 4.46 ERA) pitches for San Diego on Saturday in the third game of the series. It will be Lyles' ninth start, his most since 2015. LHP Andrew Suarez(2-4, 4.70) goes for San Francisco.

Down on the Farm: Jalen Miller is this year's Giants breakout prospect

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Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Jalen Miller is this year's Giants breakout prospect

Every year in the MLB Draft, comparisons are thrown around for college and high school prospects, most of them way over the top. He's the next Barry Bonds. He's the next Derek Jeter. He's the next Chipper Jones. He's the next Pedro Martinez. 

When the Giants drafted Jalen Miller in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the high school middle infielder from Georgia was often compared to a three-time All-Star who started out as a prepster middle infielder from the Peach State -- Brandon Phillips. While Phillips isn't a future Hall of Famer, he was a speedy second baseman with power and a golden glove, four Gold Gloves to be exact. 

Miller started off his professional career at 19 years old and immediately showed his speed and athleticism. The bat, however, was way behind any Phillips comparisons. In his first three seasons, Miller batted .218, .223, .227 with a combined 11 home runs. Now in his fourth season as a pro, and his second with the San Jose Giants, Miller is enjoying his breakout year before our eyes. 

At the All-Star break, Miller ranked seventh in the California League in batting average (.305), second in hits (81), and sixth in doubles (18). To open up the second half, Miller balsted his eighth home run of the year, the exact amound he hit in the California League Home Run Derby, and already two more than his previous career high of six. During his second stint in San Jose, Miller has made strides at the plate with his power and overall consistency. 

Aside from hitting for a low average his first three seasons, Miller also struggled reaching base. Not once in those first three seasons did Miller have an on-base percentage of .300 or higher. And from 2015-17, he struck out 249 to 74 walks. Miller has a .345 on-base percentage to go with his .303 batting average and .472 batting average in 65 games. All three parts of his slash line are career highs by a long shot. Though the 21-year-old still has a ways to go with his patience (61 walks to 15 walks this year), Miller has vastly improved his overall approach and pitch recognition. 

Just as he has become more consistent on offense, Miller has improved his consistency with his glove as well. Drafted as a shortstop, the 5-foot-11 Miller has solely played second base this season. His .965 fielding percentage is a career high and he has turned 45 doubles plays so far. 

Comparisons, just like the draft itself, is a two-eyes-closed leap of faith. Miller and Phillips, both high school prospects from the same state, were both drafted as athletic shortstops full of upside who transitioned to second base, with Phillips going one round higher. For Miller, the results are coming later than Phillips, and that's just fine as the Giants' No. 29 prospect gets closer to his Georgia counterpart.