NBC Sports

Zaidi explains why Giants traded Coonrod to Phillies

NBC Sports

Even with the dramatic velocity gains MLB pitchers have made in recent years, a stadium still lights up when a player reaches back and puts 100 mph up on the scoreboard. Trading that type of pitcher is generally not something that excites a fan base, but Saturday's deal certainly was a bit more complicated than the usual one-for-one.

Sam Coonrod is an intriguing talent, but he lost the faith of much of the fan base last summer, not with a high ERA, but with a decision not to kneel during a moment of unity between the Dodgers and Giants, and his subsequent comments about the Black Lives Matter movement. 

On Saturday, the Giants shipped Coonrod to Philadelphia, getting a 2020 draftee in return and clearing a roster spot. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the move purely was made for "clear and obvious baseball reasons," not because of Coonrod's comments last summer.

"None at all," Zaidi said when asked about a connection. "It was really a trade we made for baseball reasons. He played a big role for us all year. Before he unfortunately went on the (injured list) for us the last couple days of the season, he threw four out of five games in a really crucial stretch for us. He was a big part of our team all season."

Download and subscribe to the Balk Talk Podcast

 

You don't have to scroll Twitter for more than 10 seconds to see why the question had to be asked. Coonrod briefly made headlines nationally last July when he followed the decision to stand -- he was the only player on either side to do so -- by saying he had some issues with Black Lives Matter. 

"I just can't get on board with a couple of things that I have read about Black Lives Matter," he said after the season opener. "How they lean toward Marxism and they've said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can't get on board with that."

Five weeks later, Coonrod, who by then was climbing the bullpen ranks, said he stood by his earlier decision and comments. At one point in September he looked like he would come out of the up-and-down season as a potential future closer, but he blew a save on the final Friday night of the season in dramatic fashion and ended the year on the IL. 

The Giants have since made several moves to upgrade their bullpen from the right side. They have signed veterans Matt Wisler and John Brebbia, drafted Dedniel Nuñez in the Rule 5 Draft, and elevated Camilo Doval, Gregory Santos and Kervin Castro to the 40-man roster. They also will get Reyes Moronta back from a shoulder injury, and with Tyler Rogers, Trevor Gott and others still in the mix, Zaidi was starting to see a crowd. He said that was the only reason for the deal. 

"It just created a traffic jam in terms of right-handed relievers on the 40-man roster," Zaidi said. "It was a position of depth for us. As we've been kinda adding we've been talking to some teams that we thought might have interest." 

Zaidi hinted the Giants could make additional deals as they try and rebuild a bullpen that was surprisingly strong in September but ran out of reliable right-handed arms. They also could use that roster spot for a starter, which continues to be a need at the big-league level. In return for Coonrod, the Giants got a player who won't be in the mix anytime soon, but helps fill a void in the farm system. 

RELATED: What Lindor blockbuster trade means for Giants going forward

Carson Ragsdale, a 22-year-old right-hander, was a consideration for the Giants late in June's draft. He went to the Phillies in the fourth round. Ragsdale is 6-foot-8 and right now has a two-pitch mix, the kind of profile that often ends up in a bullpen, but Zaidi said the Giants are eager to see what he can do as a starter. He had four really impressive starts for the University of South Florida last spring before the season was shut down. 

"We definitely see him as a starter," Zaidi said. "He's just an intriguing pitching prospect because he's relatively new to pitching. He was a two-way guy in college, started off as a position player and was a reliever his first couple of years. He's very new to starting. We view him as a starter and we're going to develop him as a starter. He's got a really good fastball, a plus curveball -- it has a chance to really be an elite swing-and-miss pitch for him so the ability to spin it is really attractive.

 

"Both in the draft and as we've kind of done research on Carson as this trade possibility emerged, it's going to be big for him to develop a third pitch to go along with those two really good foundational pitches he has. A guy who is 6-foot-8, who is a good athlete, who is relatively new to pitching, who is relatively new to starting, there's reason to be excited about the upside. We're certainly going to develop him as a starter for now."