Posted on December 10, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The San Francisco Giants had a busy day at the MLB Winter Meetings Tuesday. Within the span of a few hours, the club made additions to both their infield and starting rotation. First, the Giants acquired infielder Zack Cozart and shortstop prospect Will Wilson from the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations. They quickly pivoted their attention to the pitching staff, signing veteran righty Kevin Gausman to a one-year deal worth $9 million, plus incentives.
Cozart has had a rough time in his first two seasons with the Angels after signing a three-year, $38 million deal prior to the 2018 season. Injuries have limited him to a total of 96 games in those two seasons. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last July. Even when he was healthy enough to play, Cozart struggled to produce, hitting just .124 with two extra-base hits in less than 100 at-bats in 2019.
Nevertheless, Cozart could be an intriguing reclamation project for San Francisco. He’s just a few years removed from hitting 24 home runs and producing an OPS of .933 with the Reds in 2017. At first glance, Cozart could be in line to be the team’s second baseman in 2020. Despite being a shortstop for most of his career, a move to the keystone makes sense for a 34-year-old coming off shoulder surgery. Currently, the Giants have no other options at second base other than young shortstop Mauricio Dubon and journeyman Donovan Solano. If nothing else, Cozart will serve as a versatile utility man.
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The Giants have also picked up a promising prospect as part of the deal with the Angels. Wilson was the 15th overall pick in the 2019 Draft and ranked the no. 4 prospect in the Los Angeles farm system. He will likely need at least a couple more years in the minors. But Wilson has solid tools across the board and should contribute in the majors in some capacity, even if it’s as a second baseman or a backup middle infielder.
As for the Angels, this trade was little more than a salary dump. The Halos have a couple of internal options at third base, where Cozart played when healthy over the past two seasons. At best, he would have been an expensive back up with the Halos in 2020. More importantly, Los Angeles was able to shed payroll that could be used to help land one of the top free agents left on the open market.
Meanwhile, the Giants have added Gausman to their pitching staff. He figures to be another reclamation project for the Giants after posting a 5.72 ERA in 2019. While he’s been a starter most of his career, Gausman pitched better out of the bullpen after a midseason trade to the Reds this past season. San Francisco is likely to lose Madison Bumgarner in free agency, opening up a spot in the back end of their rotation if Gausman can bounce back. If not, the Giants have the option of moving him back to the bullpen, although with a $9 million salary, San Francisco is surely planning on him being a starter in 2020.
From San Francisco’s perspective, trading for Cozart and signing Gausman are by no means slam-dunk moves. However, both have a chance to pay off if the two veteran players can bounce back from rough 2019 seasons. As always, only time will tell if these moves pay off for the Giants or they turn into a colossal waste of money, which is also a distinct possibility.