Guardians acquire Spencer Howard from Giants

The Guardians have signed a right-handed player Spencer Howard from the Giants, according to Shayna Rubin of the San Francisco Chronicle on X. The Giants, who recently designated the righty for assignment, will receive cash in return. The Guardians announced that they designated the righty Wes Parsons for the assignment to clear a place for 40 men.

Howard, 27, was with the Giants on a minor league deal earlier this year and opened the season with 10 starts in Triple-A. He had a 5.90 earned run average during that time, though he probably should have earned better. His 32.2 percent strikeout rate was solid, and his 9.6 percent walk rate was only slightly high. But he had a .406 batting average on balls in play and a 66.1 percent strand rate in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, so his 4.12 FIP was nearly two runs better than his ERA.

The Giants added him to their roster in late May, and he spent a little over a month with the club in a swing role. He threw 24 innings in seven outings, two as a starter, with a 5.63 ERA. It’s possible that luck played a role again, as his .388 BABIP was well above average during that time, but his strikeout rate also dropped to an 18.4% in the majors. His most recent outing was particularly tough, as he allowed six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. Because he is out of options, he was bumped from the 40-man roster.

The Guardians may be intrigued by those Triple-A strikeout numbers Howard posted earlier this year, or perhaps his previous status as a notable prospect. A second-round pick of the Phillies in 2017, he was considered one of the league’s top prospects, with Baseball America rating him #27 overall in 2020 and 2021. He went to the Rangers in the 2021 deadline deal that Kyle Gibson And Ian Kennedy the other way.

Unfortunately, Howard has never had much success in the major leagues. Between his stints with the Phillies, Rangers, and Giants, he has 139 innings in the majors with a 6.93 ERA, 19.9% ​​strikeout rate, and 10.1% walk rate. His work in the minors hasn’t been much better in recent years, as he has thrown 143 1/3 innings on the farm since the start of 2021 with a 4.83 ERA, though that minor league work has come with a 31.7% strikeout rate.

With Howard out of options, the Guards are hoping he can start making big-time punches soon, likely in a long relief role. The rotation is lost Shane Bieber to Tommy John surgery and they recently had a struggling Triston McKenziebut they have a starting five of Browner Bibee, Be Lively, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen And Carlos Carrasco.

If the Guards can figure out how to get Howard on the right track, it could pay off in the long run. He’s out of options, but could be retained through arbitration for three more seasons beyond this one if he keeps his roster spot for the rest of the year.

Parsons, 31, began the year with the Blue Jays but was designated for assignment in early April and traded to the Guardians for international bonus pool space. He has spent most of the year in a swing role at Triple-A, throwing 25 2/3 innings over 12 outings, five of which were starts. He posted a 4.21 ERA during that time, but it may have been fortunate to be so low. He struck out 29.3 percent of the batters he faced, but also walked at a whopping 17.1 percent. If it weren’t for his 84.6 percent strand rate, he would have fared much worse, which is why he had a 6.06 FIP for Columbus.

The Guards now have a week to trade Parsons or let him go on waivers. The recent numbers aren’t exciting, but he’s in the final year of his option and could be attractive to an injury-ridden club looking for some depth in the minors.

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