SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Giants knew Conor Gillaspie wasn’t going to make the opening-day roster and he was out of minor league options. So they didn’t prolong the inevitable.
The club finalized a trade on Friday that sent Gillaspie to the Chicago White Sox for Jeff Soptic, a hard-throwing right-handed prospect whose fastball has been clocked in the upper 90s.
Soptic, a third-round pick in 2011, will report to the Giants’ minor league camp. The 21-year-old was 3.3 with a 5.09 ERA in 30 relief appearances over two pro seasons. He’s averaged six walks per nine innings, so he’ll be a project for Giants vice president Dick Tidrow.
Gillaspie was a supplemental first-round pick (37th overall) in the 2008 draft – the club’s second selection after Buster Posey, and well in front of fourth-rounder Brandon Crawford.
Gillaspie beat all of them to the major leagues; he had a September call-up worked into his contract so that he’d agree to sign for the recommended slot value. His promotion, the first of any 2008 draftee, led to some awkward moments, especially when veterans called him out for speaking a little too boldly about his ability.
Gillaspie, 25, batted .287 with 37 home runs in 514 games in the minors but his bat wasn't enough to carry him past his suspect defense at third base to earn an everyday look. He was a .205 hitter (9 for 29) with one home run – and inside-the-parker – and four RBIs in 29 big league games.
Giants GM Brian Sabean said the team wanted to free up a 40-man roster space, but no other moves were pending. (And no, don’t expect Brian Wilson to stroll into Scottsdale Stadium any day now.) It'll also be a lot less confusing for stadium announcers, since similarly named non-roster outfielder Cole Gillespie is in Giants camp.
Gillaspie would've been designated for assignment and placed on waivers if he hadn't been traded. The White Sox designated infielder Lars Anderson to create room for him.
The GIants now have 39 players on the 40-man roster.