ATLANTA — Thursday was decision day for the Giants with Steven Duggar, whose rehab assignment reached its 20-day limit, and they opted to trade the homegrown outfielder over finding a spot for him on their own crowded roster.
The Giants dealt Duggar for fellow left-handed-hitting outfielder Willie Calhoun in a swap with the Texas Rangers that also brought back cash considerations, the club announced Thursday, after it was first reported by Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic.
Calhoun will report to Triple-A Sacramento, Giants manager Gabe Kapler said after the Giants’ 7-6 loss Thursday in Atlanta.
Kapler, who worked with Calhoun as the Dodgers’ farm director before he was dealt to Texas, said he was “personally excited” about adding him to the organization.
“I really like Willie. … I’ve known him for a really long time. I know what his strengths are and I’m excited he’s a Giant, ”Kapler said. “I think he can really swing the bat. He can really make contact with pitches anywhere in the zone. He has a history of hitting a lot of line drives to the pull side.”
Although he played a significant role on the team that won 107 games last season, Duggar’s spot on the roster was usurped by Luis González, a late-season waiver claim last year who has impressed at the plate. González doesn’t quite offer the same baserunning and defensive capabilities as Duggar but he is an MLB-average runner and can play all three outfield spots and has come to be an upgrade at the plate.
In Duggar, the Giants lose their best defensive outfielder and their best base runner. Duggar had four stolen bases in 12 games, which still ranks third on the team (Thairo Estrada: 10; González: 7) despite not playing for the past two months.
Calhoun, who was designated for assignment and passed through unclaimed waivers earlier this month, is limited to left field and has never stolen a base in his MLB career. Once the centerpiece of the trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers, Calhoun requested a trade when he was optioned to Triple-A earlier this month.
The Giants drafted Duggar in the sixth round of the 2015 draft and he made his MLB debut in 2018, making him one of the longest-tenured players in the organization.
In 14 games at Triple-A Sacramento, Duggar was batting .204/.264/.286 with a home run and a double. He hadn’t appeared in a game with the Giants since he strained his oblique in an at-bat against the Mets on April 21.
“All of us want to see him have a lot of success going forward. It’s not easy to lose that type of teammate and athlete and personality,” Kapler said. “I don’t think there’s a player in there or a coach who doesn’t think the world of Steven Duggar. Exceptionally gifted. Super-athletic. Talented all the way around. … But I thought we did a nice job in acquiring a player like Willie Calhoun.”
In return, they get a player who can claim local ties: Calhoun, 27, is a graduate of Benicia High School who grew up rooting for Barry Bonds.
Calhoun had his best showing in the majors as a 24-year-old in 2019, when he batted .269/.323/.524 with 21 home runs in 309 at-bats. But he has struggled to regain that form since, appearing in 18 games this season with only six hits in 44 at-bats (a .136 average).
Calhoun has one option year remaining but it won’t be required to send him to Triple-A. After passing through waivers earlier this month, he won’t take up a spot on the 40-man roster and can be outrighted to Sacramento.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism