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Giants trade Slater, cash to Reds for minor-league left-hander

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The longest-tenured Giant didn't make it back to San Francisco from their latest road trip.

Outfielder Austin Slater was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday night in exchange for left-hander Alex Young, a reliever who made 24 appearances for the Giants in 2022 but has been optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. The Giants sent an undisclosed sum to the Reds along with Slater, who is due $4 million this season.

Slater is the last holdover from a previous regime, although he thrived when put in a platoon role under Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler. He was particularly effective during the 107-win season in 2021, posting a .894 OPS against lefties and hitting four pinch-hit homers, but this season has been a struggle.

Slater had elbow surgery last October and was battling back most of the spring. He was just 5-for-39 before going on the IL in May, and while the production has been better since he returned, he still has not hit lefties at anything close to his previous rate. Overall, he has a .202 average and .581 OPS with just one homer. Against lefties, he is batting just .174, making him a difficult fit alongside Mike Yastrzemski and Michael Conforto in the corner outfield spots. 

The rare early-July trade signals that the Giants are ready to further commit to Luis Matos, a 22-year-old who has seen inconsistent playing time. Matos started just two games on the road trip but now is in line for additional reps. The Giants also potentially made it easier to bring players off the 60-day IL, something they will have to do at least twice this month for Robbie Ray and Alex Cobb. 

Drafted in 2014, Slater played 592 games for the Giants over eight years. He was outspoken in his support of the city of San Francisco after some issues in free agency in recent years, and he also served as the team's MLBPA rep for several years, helping guide the Giants and MLB through the pandemic and a lockout. Slater now serves in a leadership role for the MLBPA. 

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