The Giants and New York Yankees talked about Mike Tauchman in the offseason and the spring. It's rare for teams to trade major leaguers for other major leaguers in April, but there were plenty of reasons why Tuesday's move made sense.
San Francisco's had a surplus of left-handed relief pitching and a need for a left-handed bat in center field. With Mike Yastrzemski fighting an oblique strain, they swung a trade for Tauchman, sending Wandy Peralta and a player to be named later to the Yankees.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he views Tauchman as someone who is a plus defender with good plate discipline and some power, and noted he's someone Zaidi has eyed for a while.
"I'd say kinda my entire time with the Giants," Zaidi said, laughing.
As he has done often, Zaidi got his man.
Tauchman should join the big league roster Wednesday, giving manager Gabe Kapler a needed boost in center, where he has leaned on right-handed-hitters Austin Slater and Mauricio Dubon. Zaidi said it also could keep the Giants from rushing Yastrzemski back onto the field.
"This is really a long-term move and it's totally independent of the Yaz health situation, but maybe it does give us a little bit more latitude to resist the temptation to get Yaz back in the lineup before he's 100 percent ready," Zaidi said. "That's a temptation that he's going to have and I'm sure we may have. Just creating a little bit of insulation from that temptation is maybe a good thing for us."
Tauchman played 52 games with the Colorado Rockies in 2017 and '18 and then spent the last three seasons with the Yankees, with 2019 being by far his best run in the big leagues. He had 260 at-bats that year, more than the rest of his career combined, and slashed .277/.361/.504 with 13 homers.
Tauchman still reached base at a high clip in the shortened season but didn't homer in 95 at-bats, and he hasn't played much in 2021. As a big leaguer, he has had reverse splits.
"I think he's a guy who has shown the ability to hit both lefties and righties," Zaidi said. "The way we tend to manage the roster, I think more of his opportunities will come against right-handed pitching, but it's a luxury to have a guy who you think can hang in there against lefties."
In 11 appearances for the Yankees this season, Tauchman had three hits in 14 at-bats but did show a trait that's valuable to the Giants. He has played all three outfield spots this season and has 29 big league appearances in center, a nice boost for a Giants organization that has had an ongoing search for upper-level depth there.
Kapler said he spoke to Yankees manager Aaron Boone earlier Tuesday and got a report that Tauchman is a versatile defender whose "plate discipline really stands out."
"He talked about Mike as a guy who can really play the outfield -- center field, left field, all three outfield positions -- but he noted that he really stands out in center and left," Kapler said. "We also discussed his ability to look over the baseball, to make good swing decisions, to really grind in the batter's box, and those were things that [the Giants] identified in Mike that definitely led to this acquisition. He provides a really good at-bat and I think we can all look back to 2019 and see what a good baseball player he was in general."
Tauchman's arrival seems perfectly timed for a team that's without Yastrzemski for at least a few more games, but Kapler and Zaidi both said this was a long-term decision.
Since Tauchman is out of options, he would seem to slide in front of LaMonte Wade Jr. and Steven Duggar on the depth chart.
It'll be interesting to see what the Giants do if their outfield gets back to full strength in a week. With a trip to Coors Field next week and six games against the Padres coming up, it's unlikely the Giants stay at seven relievers for long.
Slater and Dubon have options, but Slater isn't going anywhere and Dubon is needed to back up Brandon Crawford. Jason Vosler could be optioned when pitching is needed, although the infield is where the biggest injury issues have popped up lately.
Of course, the Giants could always just put Yastrzemski on the injured list.
"We've got a series against a tough San Diego team coming up and going into Coors Field you sort of always need to be prepared for all kinds of contingencies, especially on the pitching side," Zaidi said. "We may be taking it day-to-day with a couple spots on the 26-man roster over the next week to 10 days."