The Astros have acquired utility player Mauricio Dubon from the Giants in exchange for catcher Mike Papierski, as announced by both clubs. Additionally, the Giants have recalled infielder Donovan Walton to replace Dubon on the active roster and assigned Papierski to Triple-A Sacramento.
Dubon, 27, was originally drafted by the Red Sox in 2013, but went to the Brewers as part of the 2016 Tyler Thornburg trade. He made it up to the big leagues for a two-game cup of coffee before being sent to the Giants as part of the 2019 deadline deal that sent Drew Pomeranz spirit Ray Black to the Brewers.
Since that time, Dubon has proved to be a useful bench / utility piece for the club. In 179 career games, he’s hit .258 / .301 / .395 while spending time at second base, third base, shortstop and center field. That batting line amounts to 88 wRC +, about 12% below league average, but his solid defense at multiple positions has still allowed him to accumulate 1.4 wins above replacement for his career, according to FanGraphs.
Those are solid contributions for a part-time player, but it seems that Dubon might have just been squeezed off a talented Giants roster. He and Thairo Estrada play similar roles on the club as right-handed hitting utility options. Tommy La Stella began the season on the injured list after undergoing achilles surgery in October but is currently rehabbing and nearing a return. The club will need to make room for him and it seems like they either preferred Estrada or got an offer on Dubon that tipped the scales in favor of this route. Since Dubon is out of options, sending him to the minors wasn’t going to be possible.
For the Astros, they’ve had disappointing results from their utility players so far this year. Aledmys Diaz is hitting .191 / .257 / .294 on the year for a wRC + of 69. Niko Goodrum has been even worse, as his slash line on the year is currently .128 / .171 / .179, wRC + of 4. With Jose Altuve spirit Jeremy Pena both dealing with minor injuries this week, the club’s middle infield mix was starting to look a little wobbly. They’re surely hoping that Dubon can help shore it up.
As for Papierski, he was a ninth round selection of the Astros in the 2017 draft. He’s since worked his way up the minor league ladder, reaching Triple-A last year. His first taste of that level went okay, as he put up a line of .246 / .379 / .375, 98 wRC +. However, he’s taken a dip so far this year, sitting on a line of .211 / .324 / .278, 59 wRC +. He’s also been spending less time behind the plate this year, with 11 games at catcher, nine at first base and six at designated hitter. Last year, it was 64 at catcher and 28 at first. If he continues that trend in his new organization, it will put more pressure on him to produce with the bat since he will not be providing as much defensive value.