The Best and Worst Trade of the Decade for the San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants were an MLB powerhouse during the first few years of the last decade, capturing three World Series titles in a span of five seasons. They managed to win those Fall Classics on even years, winning in 2010, 2012, and 2014. However, since their last title in 2014, they’ve made the playoffs just once, losing to the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 National League Division Series.

It’s safe to say that a lot of things have changed within this organization over the last five years from management to numerous players moving on or retiring. Just Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence, and Brandon Belt remain from their glory days. But to be successful, as they were a number of years ago, the front office had to make the necessary moves, whether it was drafting and developing or trading for more quality players that could help the club.

The Giants have finished under .500 in each of the last three seasons and now enter a new chapter after Bruce Bochy retired at the end of the 2019 season and Gabe Kapler took over. They’re in full rebuild mode with many young players looking to make their mark at the big-league level and get this team back into the playoffs in the near future.

Over the next several weeks Baseball Essential will be doing a series on the best and worst trade every team in Major League Baseball has made over the last decade. Here is the best and worst trade the San Francisco Giants have made since 2010.

The Best Trade the San Francisco Giants Have Made Since 2010: San Francisco Acquires Hunter Pence From the Philadelphia Phillies for Tommy Joseph, Seth Rosin, and Nate Schierholtz (July 31, 2012)

The Giants were looking for a spark in their lineup before the 2012 trade deadline, so they made a move for one of the game’s most lively players: Hunter Pence. Pence, 29 at the time, was enjoying a solid campaign before the trade, hitting .271 with 17 home runs in 101 games. Pence actually struggled a bit when he arrived in San Francisco, slashing just .219 with seven home runs and 45 RBIs in 59 games. He fared slightly better in the postseason though, where he hit .286 in a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Things got better for Pence in the coming years as a Giant, going on to spend the next seven seasons with the organization. In 2013 and 2014 he played all 162 games, which, by no surprise, led MLB. He was also extremely productive, hitting .280 across those two years with 27 and 20 long balls, respectively. In 2014 Pence was also named an All-Star and played a huge part in San Francisco’s third World Series in just five years, compiling a mind-boggling .444 batting average in the Fall Classic against the Kansas City Royals. He collected 12 hits in just seven games, including three doubles and a home run. Pence was undoubtedly a vital reason they were able to win it all that year — along with Madison Bumgarner‘s dominance on the mound.

He’s an electrifying player who plays with a ton of energy and passion, but Pence’s importance went a lot deeper than between the white lines. He was one of San Francisco’s leaders for many years, giving numerous inspirational speeches in the clubhouse to rile up his teammates.

After seven years as a Giant, he signed a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training with the Texas Rangers after the 2018 season. Pence had an outstanding year with Texas in 2019, making the American League All-Star team. However, on February 7, the 37-year-old went back to San Francisco on a one-year contract.

It looks very likely that Pence will end his career with the team that he had the longest tenure with. The decision to bring him aboard in the summer of 2012 was absolutely the best trade that the San Francisco Giants have made in the last decade.

The Worst Trade the San Francisco Giants Have Made Since 2010: San Francisco Acquires Matt Moore From the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Duffy, Lucius Fox, and Michael Santos (August 1, 2016)

The 2016 season was the last season that San Francisco was even in playoff contention, eventually losing to the Cubs in the NLDS. They were looking to strengthen their rotation, so they acquired hard-throwing lefty Matt Moore from the Rays. But, in return, they gave up Matt Duffy, who was turning into a solid third baseman and a possible key piece for the future.

Moore was one of the more exciting young arms in baseball just a few years prior, putting up solid numbers in 2012 and 2013 with Tampa Bay. But injuries hindered his development, as he became pretty inconsistent in the seasons leading up to this trade. He had a 4.08 ERA with the Rays in 2016 before the deadline move, and once he became a Giant, Moore posted a carbon copy ERA in 12 starts, going 6-5.

In his first full season with San Fran in 2017, the lefty was dreadful, compiling a 6-15 record and a 5.52 ERA in 31 starts. He also led the NL in most earned runs surrendered. After a rough year in Texas in 2018, Moore ended up with the Detroit Tigers in 2019 but pitched just 10 innings before hurting his knee, which ended his season. Now he’s playing overseas in Japan.

Duffy enjoyed a productive short stint after this trade in 2016 with the Rays, hitting .276 in 21 games. The following season he appeared in 132 games, finishing with an impressive .294 batting average. An injury-ridden 2019 limited the third baseman to just 46 games. Duffy was eventually released by Tampa Bay, but he signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers in the offseason. In his first full big-league campaign with the Giants in 2015, he was brilliant. Duffy went deep 12 times, collected 77 RBIs, and hit .295 in 149 games. He also made just 12 errors at the hot corner. What more could you want? Duffy clearly proved that he could have been the third baseman of the future for the Giants. Just 24 years old, his best years were ahead of him.

Instead, they traded away Duffy and then traded for an aging Evan Longoria the following year. Don’t get me wrong, Longoria is a very good big leaguer, but his best days were behind him. Across two seasons with the Giants, he has hit just .250 with 17 and 20 home runs, respectively. To boot, Longoria has been lackluster defensively, committing 15 errors in each of the last two seasons in an average of just 120 games per year.

The number of injuries that Moore suffered before the Giants acquired him from the Rays should have been a red flag. Moore wasn’t the same pitcher that he once was in his first couple of big-league seasons. Not only did they give up Duffy who could have been an important piece to their future, but they got absolutely nothing in return from Moore except being a liability on the mound. This was definitely the worst trade of the last decade by the San Francisco Giants.

Stay tuned to Baseball Essential over the next few weeks for more on the best and worst trades made by all 30 MLB clubs over the past 10 years.

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