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Giants trade Austin Jackson, Cory Gearrin to Rangers

The Giants deal two veterans who had great success last year but have struggled in 2018 to the Rangers in a salary dump.

San Fransicsco Giants v Washington Nationals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Giants have traded outfielder Austin Jackson and right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin, along with right-handed pitching prospect Jason Bahr, to the Rangers for cash or a player to be named later, per a club announcement Sunday:

Jackson, 31, signed a two-year contract with the Giants over the offseason and was their starting center fielder on Opening Day after a strong 2017 campaign with the Indians that saw him post a .318/.387/.482 slash line over 318 plate appearances. But he was quickly displaced from the Giants’ outfield mix following the emergence of Gorkys Hernandez and had started just one game since June 16.

Gearrin, 32, had a career-best season in 2017, posting a 1.99 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP over 68 innings. The side-winding reliever has struggled in 2018, though, posting a 4.20 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over 35 appearances (30 innings). He, too, had been limited in recent weeks; he had two lengthy stints where he was on the active roster and didn’t get in a game, with his June 22 appearance being his only outing from June 12-30.

This trade obviously opens up some competitive-balance tax room for the Giants, who were creeping up right near the $197 million threshold (or were on pace to surpass it already). Now they’ll shed the remainder of Gearrin and Jackson’s salaries ($1.675 million and $3 million, respectively), perhaps freeing them up to add an impact player at the deadline but at the very least giving them some CBT flexibility. The Rangers will also take on Jackson’s $3 million salary for 2019, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

The Rangers have been very helpful in helping the Giants with their competitive-balance tax issues over the past year — in fact, if they stay under, you could argue that it’s singlehandedly thanks to the Texas front office. Over the winter, the Rangers took on the $9 million salary of left-handed starter Matt Moore, who had been one of the National League’s worst starters in 2017 and has continued to struggle this year, betting on a return to form by Moore and sending right-handed relief prospect Sam Wolff to the Giants in return. Now, they’ll help the Giants with their financial concerns again by taking on the two players on the team who are struggling and (relatively) highly-paid.

As a reward for taking on those contracts, the Rangers get back Bahr, a 2017 fifth-round pick who had thrived in the Giants’ system this year, posting a 2.55 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 103 strikeouts and 23 walks over 84.2 innings split between Low-A Augusta and High-A San Jose. The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder was rated as the Giants’ No. 27 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

To replace Jackson and Gearrin on the major-league roster, the Giants purchased the contracts of two rookies who appear on their MLB Pipeline top-30 rankings: outfielder Steven Duggar, ranked as their No. 3 prospect, who figures to get a lot of playing time going forward, and No. 29 prospect Ray Black, a fireballing right-handed reliever who had posted a 2.27 ERA with an incredible 58 strikeouts and 11 walks over 31.2 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this season.