Brandon Belt got off to a slow start with the Giants, but the 23-year-old rookie hit .324 with a 1.011 OPS in 43 games after being sent back to Triple-A and San Francisco’s starting first baseman, Aubrey Huff, is hitting .243 with a .665 OPS.
You’d think that would convince the Giants to give Belt a legitimate chance to unseat Huff down the stretch, but instead they kept Belt on the bench for the past couple weeks and then demoted him back to the minors yesterday to make room on the roster for Mark DeRosa coming off the disabled list.
There’s nothing left for Belt to prove in the minors, where he’s hit .337 with a 1.036 OPS at Double-A and .300 with a .998 OPS at Triple-A, but he’s never going to prove himself in the majors unless the Giants actually give him an extended opportunity. They haven’t and apparently won’t, at least not this season.
Or as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News put it:
So it appears the Giants are going to ride it out with Aubrey Huff at first base. After covering this organization for eight years, I can’t say I’m surprised. Hey, I just report the facts. You’re free to opine from there. Without profanity, please.
That’s about as close as a beat reporter will come to letting readers know he’s dumb-founded by a move.
Huff was a big part of the Giants’ championship last season, but he’s been one of MLB’s least productive first basemen this season and is 34 years old. Re-signing Huff to a two-year, $22 million deal was a mistake made in the euphoria of a World Series win and that contract along with his veteran-ness is now keeping him in the lineup ahead of a far more promising player.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.