cut the line for waiver requests

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants’ latest acquisition has dubbed itself the “COVID replacement player.”

At least, that’s the term Mike Ford and his family scoffed at after learning he was heading to San Francisco.

“Anyone who needs a guy for a few days,” Ford joked after arriving in the Bay Area around 9 a.m. Saturday for his second stint filling a spot on a roster depleted by a COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s been a whirlwind week for Ford, who has spent the past five days at home with his family in Tampa after being nominated for a posting by the Mariners, who called him as COVID-19 swept through their clubhouse. Ford, who went undrafted as an amateur and was drafted by Rule V as a professional, has a habit of moving around.

“I dreamed of getting a place in the major leagues, and every team you go to, you hope that’s it,” Ford said.

For now, Ford will provide the Giants with a batting left-handed off the bench and depth at first base as they deal with an outbreak at their clubhouse that has infected Brandon Belt and four other players. Backup receiver Curt Casali also took extra field drills at first base.

“He fits our offensive profile really well,” manager Gabe Kapler said, adding that Ford would be available at either corner of the infield. “Unique ability to look over the baseball and really drive it. We need a left-handed bat right now.

Circumstances mean Ford’s stint in San Francisco could be brief, but his acquisition signals a shift in strategy from the Giants’ front office so far this season.

The downside of winning 107 games is that it puts you at the end of the queue for waiver requests the following season. But the Giants, who run the waiver wire as much as any team, were not to be discouraged.

Instead, they found a loophole in the rules: spending assets to acquire players who would otherwise not reach 30th place on the waiver feed. They parted ways with cash to bring in Ford and infielder Kevin Padlo in separate deals this week with the Mariners and acquired utility Luke Williams in a similar deal with the Phillies at the end of spring training.

Thairo Estrada, who has recorded every inning so far this season at second base, is only on the roster because the Giants bought him from the Yankees after New York designated him for assignment last April. . But Estrada was one of only two players acquired in this way all last year, while they have already jumped the line for waiver requests three times this season.

The Giants have shown a willingness to spend resources in other ways to attract players they value and who have paid dividends.

Sam Delaplane was the other player the Giants paid cash for last season on the understanding that he needed Tommy John surgery, from which he is still recovering. But the Giants have invested the resources to add him to the roster and pay for his rehab and recovery so that when he’s ready, they’ll have another throwing depth.

The White Sox waived Luis Gonzalez rather than spend the money to keep him on the 60-day injured list, which would pay him major league pay, while he recovers from surgery at the shoulder. They tried to get him to pass waivers, but the Giants filed a claim and are reaping the benefits of a minor investment. The 26-year-old former prospect starts in a hobbled outfield and once hit a home run for the team who were willing to pay his wages as his labrum healed.

The Giants failed to make a splash in free agency and opened the regular season with a salary bill of $155 million, only $6 million more than in 2021 and lower than the salary bill of any of the five seasons before the 2020 pandemic. They use financial resources in different ways, such as cutting the line in the waiver wire or making long-term investments in players rejected by other teams.

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