Giants trade for Blake Sabol, lose eight Double-A players in Rule 5 Draft

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Giants trade for Sabol, lose heap of players in Rule 5 Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN DIEGO — As hard as they try, front offices cannot control the timing of most offseason moves, and sometimes that leads to interesting moments.

The Giants love the opportunities presented by the Rule 5 Draft, and on Wednesday, they struck again. If you ignore the fact that he was an addition made on the same day that Aaron Judge chose to go elsewhere — and you should — there’s a lot to like about Blake Sabol.

The Giants acquired Sabol shortly after he was taken by the Cincinnati Reds with the fourth pick of the Rule 5 Draft. They sent cash considerations and a player to be named later to the Reds, and because Sabol was a Rule 5 pick, they will have to keep him on their big league roster to avoid sending him back. There could be a fit, though.

Sabol, 24, was a seventh-round pick in 2019 who has a .849 OPS in three minor league seasons and had a .284/.363/.497 slash line across Double-A and Triple-A last season. He hit 19 homers last year, including five in 25 games after a promotion.

Like many Giants acquisitions, Sabol brings versatility. He has caught and played all three outfield spots in the minors and the Giants announced him as a catcher/outfielder. In that respect, he's similar to Ford Proctor, an earlier Giants acquisition who is working on getting better behind the plate.

"We just see him as a guy who could be a backup catcher, who could be a third catcher because of his ability to do other things. We really like the offensive profile," Farhan Zaidi said. "As a catcher, his framing is actually pretty solid, a little bit above average. We have (bullpen coach) Craig Albernaz look at any potential catching acquisitions and he thinks there's a pretty solid defensive level now and there's room for improvement.

"He's a good athlete and he's had two good offensive seasons moving through the upper levels. Whether it's a No. 2 or a No. 3 catcher who is doing other things, he'll be an interesting guy to try to fit."

Like Proctor, who was outrighted off the 40-man roster earlier this offseason, Sabol hits left-handed. The Giants have Joey Bart and Austin Wynns as their current catchers, but have been looking for a left-handed bat to supplement those two or pair with Bart.

The trade came shortly after an interesting draft for the Giants, who have been busy on Rule 5 day since Zaidi took over. They did not select anyone but did lose minor league reliever Nick Avila to the White Sox.

The same rules apply, and Avila will have to stick on Chicago's roster, or else he must be sent back to the Giants.

During the minor league portion of the draft, the Giants lost eight members of the Double-A Richmond roster, including three in four picks at one point. The group included first baseman Frankie Tostado, who has been in the system for four years, and Bay Area native Armani Smith, an outfielder who was drafted in the seventh round in 2019.

While team officials were sad to see some high-character prospects go after years of working together, they did not feel the Giants really lost anyone who likely was to make an impact for them in 2023.

The flurry left the Giants with plenty of vacancies to fill in Richmond, but that won’t be difficult. They already have at least one minor league free agent set to go there and most of the standouts on the loaded High-A Eugene roster are due for promotions. Zaidi pointed out that the Giants also lost a lot of players in the minor league portion of the previous Rule 5 Draft.

"It's a testament to Kyle Haines and the (player development) staff, that they do a good job," Zaidi said."

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"(Assistant GM) Jeremy Shelley and the other guys in our office are always making sure we have good depth throughout the minor leagues. I think it's going to be a regular occurrence for us that we lose six or seven guys in the minor league phase. That's just how it goes."

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