SF Giants trade Mauricio Dubón to Astros ahead of roster crunch

The Giants were finally going to get fully healthy, which meant a tough move was going to have to be made.

That tough move came early Saturday morning, with the Giants trading utility player Mauricio Dubón to the Houston Astros in exchange for Michael Papierski, a catcher and first baseman. The Giants also recalled the recently-acquired infielder Donovan Walton to take Dubón’s place on the active roster and will start Walton at second base on Saturday in St. Louis.

Dubón was in a battle for a roster spot with Thairo Estrada — both of whom are out of minor league options — all throughout the spring. But injuries to Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella and Lamonte Wade Jr. opened up opportunites for Dubón to make the Opening Day roster.

In 49 plate appearances, Dubón batted .239 with two home runs and eight RBI. He’s had his moments in the first month of the season, like going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI on Monday against the Rockies.

But Dubón’s OPS is down 20 points from 2021 and he’s had a few miscues on the bases, as well. And with Longoria and Wade both returning — and La Stella not far behind them — the Giants had to finally make a decision for their roster crunch.

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Dubón, who was born and raised in Honduras, moved to Sacramento when he was in high school and became a Giants fan, and the natural shortstop idolized Brandon Crawford. He didn’t speak to reporters in St. Louis, but posted on Instagram, “Thank you for making a kids dream true.”

Now he heads to Houston, where he’ll get to play for former Giants manager Dusty Baker and show off his ability to play second, third and center fielder in addition to shortstop.

Papierski, 26, is not on Houston’s 40-man roster but has been at Triple-A Sugar Land for the past two seasons. A switch hitter, Papierski batted .246 with seven homers and 46 RBI in 2021, good for a .754 OPS, with nearly as many walks (64) as strikeouts (85) in 410 plate appearances.

His numbers are down in 2022, only batting .211 with one homer and a .602 OPS. But he’s actually improved his walk-strikeout numbers, now with more walks (14) than strikeouts (nine) through 108 plate appearances. He’ll report to Triple-A Sacramento, where he’ll likely get chances behind the plate with 23-year-old top prospect Ricardo Genoves.

Walton, 27, was just acquired on Wednesday in a trade with the Mariners. He’s played parts of the last four seasons with Seattle, batting .196 in 102 plate appearances. He’s played at second base, shortstop, third base and left field in the big leagues.

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