What’s behind the flurry of deals between the Giants and Mariners? – San Francisco Chronicle

ST. LOUIS — Sunday at Busch Stadium was something of an anomaly. The San Francisco Giants made a pregame transaction, and the Mariners weren’t involved.

The Giants have made four deals with Seattle in the past two weeks, a streak of dealing with the same team that is not something president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi ever has come close to doing before.

“No, definitely not,” Zaidi said by phone Sunday. “And I think probably both front offices are some combination of amused and embarrassed about this stretch.”

Zaidi found an ever-willing trade partner in Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, who’s known for frenzied wheeling and dealing. In rapid succession, the Giants acquired first baseman Mike Ford, utility players Kevin Padlo and Donovan Walton and outfielder Stuart Fairchild. Somewhere in the midst of all that activity, the Giants, who’d obtained Ford in a cash deal, designated him for assignment and sent him back to Seattle for cash.

“Jerry Dipoto obviously likes his trades and he’s somebody who has a good rapport with a lot of people in the game,” Zaidi said. “He’s easy to deal with.”

So what has fueled this Giants-Mariners madness? For starters, the teams value many of the same attributes, especially versatility, and Zaidi said San Francisco has had an eye on these players for awhile. “I think we like similar players,” said Zaidi, noting that assistant hitting coach Dustin Lind is familiar with Ford, Walton and Padlo from his time with the Mariners organization.

Then, perhaps more important, both teams’ roster needs matched up: The Mariners were looking to trim their roster just as the Giants were looking for depth after a spate of COVID-19-related cases and several injuries. Seattle, which went through its own coronavirus issues before the Giants, had had to make some call-ups and other additions for the same reason — including Walton and Ford, who’d joked that he’s the league’s designated COVID replacement, and Fairchild, picked up from Arizona last month.

“We’ve both been in a little bit of flux, roster-wise, over the last couple of weeks with injuries and COVID,” Zaidi said, “and those situations can create a little bit more 40-man roster turnover than usual. We learned in our little COVID stretch that you can go from feeling like you almost have too much of a crowd to feeling like you don’t have enough options.”

Walton, obtained for minor-league right-hander Prelander Berroa, was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday as the Giants added reliever Yunior Marte to the roster. Walton will be joining Padlo (a cash deal) and Fairchild (exchanged for infielder Alex Blandino and cash) there.

Teams will often wait for players who’ve been designated for assignment to go through waivers and claim them then; the Giants and Mariners have in these deals opted to speed things up because of the roster needs and the desire to bring the players straight to the big leagues. Ford drove in the go-ahead run in Seattle’s game Sunday. Reducing the waiting time is also helpful for the players — it’s less stressful — and it keeps them from sitting for a week or more and losing timing. It’s a win-win for all.

Fairchild is the only one of the four not to join the Giants quickly. “He’s another player we’ve had longstanding interest in, and when I reached out to Jerry, I started the text with, ‘You’re going to think I’m pulling your leg,’” Zaidi said.

Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris concluded a more traditional deal Saturday, sending utility player Mauricio Dubón to the Astros for minor-league catcher Michael Papierski, which opened up the one-day roster spot for Walton.

“Mauricio is a great story and he’s a fan favorite, but we had an opportunity to make a deal to acquire a player that we like at a position where we probably needed some options,” Zaidi said, calling Papierski major-league ready from a defensive standpoint. “We’re carrying only two catchers on the 40-man, and we’re very vulnerable if we have an injury there. And we’re probably getting in a situation where when Tommy La Stella gets back, I don’t really know what we would have done otherwise.”

La Stella, who has been out all season while recovering from Achilles surgery, is likely to join the Giants in Denver on Monday and be activated then or Tuesday.

Susan Slusser covers the Giants for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: sslusser@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @susanslusser

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