How Giants' flexibility set up trade for Angels' top infield prospect

Alex Pavlovic

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants got involved in the Gerrit Cole derby, just not in the way most fans had hoped.

They acquired infielder Zack Cozart from the Angels on Tuesday, taking on the remaining $12.67 million of the 34-year-old infielder's contract. The reward for doing so was shortstop prospect Will Wilson, with the savvy deal officially announced as Cozart and Wilson in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

For the Angels, losing a good prospect could lead to much bigger things. They are one of the leading contenders for Cole and needed to free up some money.

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For the Giants, this is simple. They are rebuilding, they have plenty of payroll flexibility, and they combined those two facts to essentially buy a first-round pick by taking on a veteran's salary. 

Wilson, 21, is the key to the deal. He was the 15th overall selection in the 2019 draft and was the Angels' No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Wilson had a .275/.328/.439 slash line in rookie ball last year with five homers and 10 doubles in 189 at-bats. He is a right-handed hitter who is said to have above-average pop and good hands. 

The Giants have gone years without developing homegrown infielders after a strong run at the start of the decade, and that's one area president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi looked to bolster when he took over. Wilson will be one of the organization's better prospects and might be their second-best infield prospect after Marco Luciano. 

Cozart was an All-Star in 2017 but missed most of 2019 with left shoulder inflammation. He hit just .124 in 38 games and didn't homer. Cozart played 58 games in 2018, the first season of a big three-year deal, hitting .219 with five homers. 

[RELATED: Giants sign pitcher Gausman to one-year, $9M contract]

On the surface, Cozart is a tough fit for the 2020 roster. The Giants had hoped to add a left-handed hitting infielder to complement Evan Longoria, Mauricio Dubon and Donovan Solano, although it's possible Dubon will get more reps in the outfield with Cozart now potentially in the mix.

This deal wasn't about the big league roster, though. It was about buying a good prospect, something the Giants tried to do last offseason and expect to continue working on as they try to build a future contender. 

How Giants' flexibility set up trade for Angels' top infield prospect originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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