The Giants have traded righty Matt Wisler to the Rays in exchange for minor league left-hander Michael Plassmeyer, per a pair of team announcements. Tampa Bay has designated catcher Deivy Grullon for assignment in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Wisler. The Giants designated Wisler for assignment earlier in the week.
Wisler, 28, was long one of the game’s best pitching prospects, both with the Padres and the Braves. He never found his footing with either club, but he enjoyed something of a breakout campaign in the Twins’ bullpen during last summer’s shortened season, when he pitched to a 1.07 ERA with a 32.7 percent strikeout rate in 25 1/3 innings. Wisler walked far too many hitters last year (13.1 percent), but it was still rather surprising to see Minnesota non-tender him in spite of a very modest arbitration price. Wisler landed in San Francisco on a one-year, $1.15MM contract over the winter.
Things haven’t gone as hoped with his new club. Wisler has been tagged for a 6.05 earned run average in 19 1/3 innings with the Giants, but he’s actually maintained his huge uptick in strikeouts while also refining his control (7.3 percent walk rate). A great deal of Wisler’s success in Minnesota stemmed from a remarkable use of his slider, which he threw at an almost comical 83.5 percent clip in 2020. Wisler has incredibly thrown the slider with even greater frequency so far in 2021, using his slider at a 90.3 percent rate.
Wisler give the Rays an intriguing and fairly low cost arm who can be controlled through the 2022 season if he rights the ship in his new environs. He’s the type of low-cost acquisition who seems to thrive with great frequency in the Tampa Bay ’pen. Injuries to the Rays’ relief staff have pushed them to the trade market multiple times already in 2021. They also acquired righties J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen from the Brewers in a trade that sent shortstop Willy Adames to Milwaukee.
The Giants will net a nicer return than one would expect from a player who’d been designated for assignment. Plassmeyer, 24, was a fourth-rounder in 2018 who went from Seattle to Tampa Bay in the Mike Zunino trade. He ranked 30th in a perennially stacked Rays farm system at Baseball America last year, and FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen has him 31st in the Tampa Bay system in 2021.
Plassmeyer isn’t an overpowering arm, but he’s walked just 4.6 percent of the hitters he’s faced in pro ball and has ascended to the Double-A level in 2021, making him a relatively near-term prospect. Plassmeyer’s 2019 season saw the lefty post a 1.91 ERA with a 21.2 percent strikeout rate, a 4.5 percent walk rate and a 45.2 percent ground-ball rate in 132 frames across three levels. He’s pitched to a 3.64 ERA so far in 29 2/3 frames of Double-A ball, enjoying a nice uptick in strikeouts (26.1 percent) while maintaining his typically stellar control.