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Why Giants sent Wade Jr. to minors amid roster crunch

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LaMonte Wade

LaMonte Wade Jr. has done just about everything right for the Giants in recent weeks, showing power, having lengthy plate appearances as a fill-in leadoff hitter, playing strong defense in the outfield and even a very capable first base when Brandon Belt was on the IL. There's just one problem with Wade's profile: He still has minor league options remaining. 

Wade Jr. was optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento after Sunday's game, along with infielder Jason Vosler. The Giants needed two roster spots because Alex Dickerson and Darin Ruf are both ready, and both were activated in time for a quick two-game series against the Los Angeles Angels that starts Tuesday.

Dickerson and Ruf likely could have joined the Giants over the weekend, but they went on a quick rehab assignment in Triple-A Sacramento, and the roster crunch didn't disappear while they were getting their timing back. The Giants all of a sudden have too many position players they trust, and that led to a bad break for Wade. 

Since getting back to the big leagues in late May, Wade has a .832 OPS with four homers, and he had three multi-hit games on the just-completed 6-1 homestand. But Wade and Vosler, who has seen time at third base since Evan Longoria's injury, can be optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento, while Mike Tauchman cannot. 

Tauchman has a .558 OPS since joining the Giants, but the team still values him and what he brings. He is second on the roster -- to Ruf -- in pitches per plate appearances and has been one of the best defensive left fielders in baseball, per advanced metrics, possibly winning two games for the Giants by pulling homers back against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals. The Giants have watched just about every position player deal with injuries this season, and they decided they didn't want to DFA Tauchman and lose that depth. 

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Austin Slater has an option remaining and could have been sent down, but his right-handed bat provides balance. Wade and Vosler hit from the left side, and the Giants already have Mike Yastrzemski, Brandon Crawford and Belt in their lineup every day, with Dickerson, Steven Duggar and Tauchman in the outfield mix. The Giants will face lefty Andrew Heaney on Tuesday and will see lefties Sean Manaea and Cole Irvin this weekend. 

It all added up to one of the harsher roster moves in recent Giants history, although Wade should take solace in the fact that he should be back soon. This is a team that makes roster moves seemingly every day, and Wade proved he belongs at the big league level.

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