Reds Acquire Austin Slater – MLB Trade Rumors

The Reds and Giants have struck a late night deal with just three weeks to go until the transfer deadline. According to an announcement from both clubs, the Reds have signed outfielder Austin Slater from San Francisco in exchange for left-hander Alex Jong. Cincinnati also receives cash considerations as part of the deal. The Giants sent Young to Triple-A following the trade.

Slater, 31, has been with the Giants organization for more than a decade. His professional career began when he was selected by the club out of Stanford in the eighth round of the 2014 draft, though he wouldn’t make his major-league debut until he was 24 in 2017. Slater was largely a part-time player during his first few years in San Francisco, collecting just 544 plate appearances in the majors between 2017 and 2019. In that limited playing time, he put up a respectable .254/.335/.368 slash line good for a 92 wRC+ while splitting time between all three outfield spots, first base and even making brief cameos at both second and third base.

The shortened 2020 season saw Slater break out in a big way, as he posted a stellar 150 wRC+ for the Giants while appearing in 31 of the club’s 60 games that year while primarily playing right field and DH for the club. That offensive explosion earned Slater an expanded role in the years that followed, and while he still faced left-handed pitching for the majority of his playing time, he carved out more of a platoon role for himself as opposed to the backup outfield role he had previously been utilized in. Slater took to the increased responsibilities quite well, and between the 2020-2023 seasons, the left-handed masher hit a solid .259/.352/.421 (118 wRC+).

That streak goes from solid to sensational when you look at just his production against lefties, against whom he posted a .285/.380/.486 line with a wRC+ of 141. That production against left-handed pitching was good for 17th in baseball over that four-year span, on par with star hitters like José Altuve And Xander Bogaerts.

While the Giants relied heavily on Slater as a platoon partner for a mostly left-handed outfield featuring sluggers such as Mike Yastrzemski, Michael ComfortableAnd Joc Pederson Injuries have further curtailed Slater’s playing time in those years. Since the start of the 2020 season, Slater has been on the injured list seven times due to groin, hamstring, wrist and hand issues, as well as multiple concussions. Slater also required elbow surgery last offseason to remove a bone spur and relieve nerve pain. It’s possible that that lengthy injury list has contributed to what has been a difficult 2024 season for the 31-year-old, as he has slashed just .200/.330/.244 in 112 plate appearances this season following a month-long stint on the IL due to a concussion earlier this year.

In acquiring Slater, the Reds are surely hoping that they can coax some of that left-handed-mashing ability he’s shown in previous years out of him to make him a good platoon partner for the club’s many left-handed outfielders. Slater’s biggest competition for playing time in that role will likely be Stuart Fairchildwho has hit a mediocre .224/.298/.347 (81 wRC+) in 189 trips to the plate this year. In the short term, however, Fairchild and Slater are likely to get plenty of reps alongside Will Benson And Spencer Steering Wheel in the club’s outfield mix thanks to the absence of Jake Fraley, TJ FriedlAnd Nick MartiniFraley is currently on the family’s emergency medical list and will likely return within a few days, but both Friedl and Martini are on the injured list and could face potential extended absences.

In exchange for Slater’s retirement, the Giants will receive some left-handed bullpen help in the form of Young. Once a second-round pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2015 draft, the left-hander made his major-league debut in 2019 and generally struggled at the major league level in a swing role with Arizona and Cleveland. That changed in 2022, when Young was acquired by San Francisco in a cash deal with the Guardians and began pitching full-time in short relief. The lefty performed quite well during his first stint with the Giants, posting a 2.39 ERA and 2.96 FIP in 26 1/3 innings of work before being non-tendered by San Francisco the following November.

More to come…

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