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Friday, June 10, 2016

Giants' external options should be assessed

About this time each year is when the contenders separate themselves from the "pretenders" as many teams can tell by mid-June whether or not they're a serious contender or not. Obviously, the Giants fall into the contender category, and with injuries popping up left and right all over their 25-man roster, they could be forced to look at some external trade options sooner than later.

The July 31st non-waiver deadline is still quite a ways away, 7 weeks to be exact, but it doesn't mean that the Giants will wait if they see a good opportunity to add to their roster. Over the first couple months of the season they've already lost key cogs Matt Cain, Sergio Romo, Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan to DL stints. Pagan is hopefully on his way back within the next couple weeks but Hunter Pence, arguably the team's second most important offensive piece, looks to be out until at least August with his torn hamstring ligament. Cain has resumed throwing and assuming he doesn't hit any road blocks, he could be back in the rotation within a week or two. Aside from those four who've missed, or are set to miss significant time, the Giants also have battled nagging injuries with second basemen Joe Panik as well as catcher Buster Posey recently. Panik's primary backup (Kelby Tomlinson) had been doing a solid job spelling Panik when needed but he himself just went down with sprained thumb and will be out a few weeks.

I mean, for all the injuries and the caliber of players they're seeing get sidelined, it's pretty impressive to see the Giants still standing strong in first place atop the NL West at 36-25 and it's a testament as to how strong their starting pitching has become as a unit and not just a two man show between Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto. However, although they seem to be treading water with some of their key players out, with the expectations they have this year, the Giants aren't going to sit around and just wait for guys to get back and hope it all works out by the end of the season. They've always been an agressive team regarding in-season trades and I expect this season to be no different.

A big question remains however. If they are going to make a deal for one player or one area of the team to upgrade, which seems most imminent at the moment? With Pagan's injury history and Pence out until the ladder part of the season, the outfield obviously becomes a good choice. Also, with the inconsistency they've seen out of the 4th and 5th rotation spots (although they've been much better in recent weeks), they could decide to add another arm. Finally, this bullpen is far from bullet proof. Santiago Casilla, while being a guy who's gonna get the job done more than not, isn't a front-line closer and he doesn't have a whole helluva lot of depth leading up to him with Romo down.

So, yes, the team has been winning, and things are still cruising along fairly nicely, but this team has not yet reached their full potential, and with Pence down for the next two months, it's going to be a while before they will be back at full strength. Should they make a deal for an outfielder to come in and hold down Pence's spot until he returns then possibly share time with Angel Pagan in left? Should they find another mid-rotation guy like they did with Mike Leake last season, as someone else who can give them 6-7 solid innings more times then not or just ride it out with Cain and Peavy? Or, do they go out and revamp the bullpen and bring in a more legit, prime time closer and/or a few solid set-up guys to really help shorten the game, as they just don't have that lights out 7th/8th inning guy right now with Romo out? This team always tends to lean towards pitching, so my guess is they'll prioritize adding another arm or two, whether it be a late reliever or starter or both. If they do add an outfielder I don't see it being anyone of any significance as they simply won't have anywhere to play come August (assuming Pence stays on schedule with rehab).

There are plenty of names to target out there and I'm sure we'll be discussing them over the next several weeks, but I think this is the dilemma the Giants front-office is currently facing and will so up until that trade-deadline. Luckily for them they're winning and in first place, but if they were .500 and behind the Dodgers 5 games then I'm sure urgency would be higher. Right now, I expect them to wait and see with Romo before deciding on the bullpen (unless guys just start crumbling in the next couple weeks). They also will give Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson some time to see if they can be viable options in Pence's spot over the next 8 weeks. Parker showed flashes at the end of last season but consistency has always been an issue with him cause he has the talent to overtake left field from Pagan if the really put it together.
The Giants Baseball Blog