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Saturday, July 07, 2018

Big trade deadline decisions looming for Giants

The Giants have essentially been floating around the .500 mark for much of the last month, getting as many as 6 games above at one point but consistently staying above it for much of the last few weeks.
Add that to the fact they're 4 games back of the first place Dodgers in the NL West and 5 games back in the Wild Card race and it's really giving the Giants' brass a lot to mull over between now and the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, now just a few short weeks away.

Now, I know Giants fans would like to hear that the Giants are going to be active and be buyers at the deadline, swooping up a power hitting left fielder they've needed since Pence, Mac Williamson and everyone else they've put out there this year have collectively provided the league's worst production. Couple that with the fact that they haven't gotten top-end production from center or right field either and you can obviously see where the Giants primary focus will be if they are indeed buyers at the end of the month. Andrew McCutchen is the only outfielder locked into an everyday role right now, and the right fielder's play has been picking up a little bit too.

Over in center, it seems like Gorkys Hernandez has become the primary guy there and has been thrust into practically an everyday role despite Bochy ideally preferring to use him as a the teams fourth outfielder. With their lack of outfield depth and none of young players stepping up and taking the bull by the horns, Hernandez is stuck in a starting position and while he's certainly not a star, he's done a pretty admirable job in comparison to what he's done throughout his career up to this point. Also, despite not playing nearly everyday for much of the season, he still leads all Giants' outfielders in home runs (11), batting average (.276) and OPS (.783).

So, that leaves left field as the most logical place to add a slugger if they find one they feel would be both good enough to push them into the mix for a deep run into October and can be obtained without going over the CBT. Of course, if they feel like a center fielder would more so fit what they're looking for offensive wise, they could go that route and slide Gorkys Hernandez over to left to possibly platoon with Austin Slater/Steven Duggar.

Now, the CBT situation changes things a lot this year, making things very tricky and more complicated than in years past. If they so choose to be buyers this summer, there aren't a whole lot of true difference makers they'd feel compelled going over the luxury tax mark for. So in order for them to land a hitter, unless maybe they can miraculously land Bryce Harper in the Bay or Manny Machado (who'd have to move out to left or possibly even over to second), would be by having the opposing team eat the players contract, which in turn would increase their asking price from SF, prospect/player wise.

Of course I'm not going to name every singe possible outfielder on the trade market, but aside from Machado and Harper, there are a handful of guys that could provide upgrades to this teams current outfield group. There's another big name on the trade market and one of Machado's teammates in Baltimore. Adam Jones would certainly fit the prototype of an offensive tool that could come in and fill into an everyday role in either center or left field. He'd be my first choice amongst the outfield options not named Harper or Machado (assuming the Giants could find a spot for him), as he does have the ability to carry a team on his back when he gets hot. The thing is, he's not having a very good season and has been ice cold lately. He's rocking only a .278/.303/.427 slash line with 10 long balls and 38 RBI. Despite the mediocre line thus far, he's averaged just shy of 30 HR/year since 2011 and he's collected 4 gold gloves over that time period making him a star in center. He's similar offensively to Andrew McCutchen and would provide a marginal upgrade and stability in center on both ends, but not if it meant going over the CBT. So in that case, the O's would have to eat most, if not all of his salary and just take prospects back in return. Seems unlikely but you never know.

Another potential option, and someone who would likely be much easier to obtain, although he too would still cost a few top-end prospects, is a guy who's playing right across the bay in Oakland. Khris Davis is on pace for another 40 HR season along with 100+ RBI. He won't bring a high batting average, hovering around .230-.240, but with his run production the Giants could easily overlook that one flaw. The one they may not be able to overlook though is Davis' lack of defense in the outfield. Corey Dickerson and Shin-Soo Choo would lead the next level of outfield trade options, but Dickerson has been up and down this year, and if continues down the path he's played at the last month. Choo has been a DH or right fielder for much of his career, playing just 10 games in LF since 2014. Don't get me wrong, if the Giants could nab any of those guys for a reasonable minor league package and the luxury tax wasn't an issue, I'd be much more inclined to jump at one of these guys but really the only two who really would be worth going over the tax, assuming they're don't fall out of it over the next three weeks, would be Harper and maybe Jones.

Now, if they have a dreadful three weeks leading up to the deadline and they find themselves below .500 and possibly 8+ games out of a playoff spot, they need to seriously consider being sellers for the first time time in a decade plus. Yes, it would be unfamiliar waters for Giants fans to see them deal away veteran big name players for prospects that may or may not pan out, but if they aren't going to make a serious run this fall, it would be wise for them to try and free up some payroll for another potential re-tooling next winter when guys I already mentioned, like Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, Manny Machado plus many more will be free agents. It's not really the Giants style to be sellers when they even have an inkling of hope at making a postseason run, so I would bet against them dealing away players come July 31st, but they have some guys who they could deem expendable and other teams may very well want. With the emergence of Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez, the Giants could listen to offers for Samardzija and maybe even Johnny Cueto, although both players contracts and recent injury issues this season may detour teams from them. Still if Cueto dominates over the next few weeks and/or Shark comes back strong but the Giants still find themselves 8+ games back in the West and multiple teams ahead of them, then a whole slew of teams between them and a wild card spot, then all bets are off.

Extras: Coming out of Friday night's victory, in which Dereck Rodriguez provided another gem and led the Giants to victory over the Cardinals, the Giants got some injury news regarding Joe Panik. The 2nd basemen who was the talk of the town over the first couple of weeks of the season, however has really disappeared ever since, has hit the DL for the second time in the last 6 weeks with a strained groin. The last time Panik went on the DL, Alen Hanson emerged as one of the bright young talents on the Giants and although his play has declined a bit since being moved around and not having an everyday role, he'll be back at second base until Panik is back and hopefully that bat that was hitting .350 when at second base returns as well.

It looks like the Giants closing situation may have finally been settled. Bruce Bochy has rolled with the same closer over the last 3 save situations without playing the "match-up game". Will Smith has been the Giants most lights out reliever really ever since he returned and has been especially tough lately and it looks like he's going to be the guy manning the ninth inning moving forward. That is at least until Mark Melancon is deemed ready to retake his role in that spot or Hunter Strickland comes back and proves healthy and effective enough to retake that role. For the time being though, it's gonna be Smith and while I think Smith is ideal in the "Andrew Miller role", the Giants need someone consistent in the ninth inning and Smith is the guy who makes the most sense. Reyes Moronta was someone I thought would get more of a look but he's too valuable in the 7th/8th innings and the same can be said for Tony Watson and neither of those guys are as dominant as Will Smith is when he's one.

So, there's a lot going on within the Giants roster. Just as we get some clarity with Will Smith being anointed the closer, they also lose another player to injury and detract from the overall depth of the squad.

I've been saying it the last couple of posts and I'll say it once again. These next few weeks are really going to make or break the Giants season and I really have no idea what to expect. It wouldn't surprise me to see them take off with Cueto and Shark back and wind up 10 games over .500 come late June. However, they're just about as likely to see Cueto and Shark struggle in their return and take time to get back into rhythm while the offense continues to try and overcome injuries leaving the team a handful of games below .500 and their playoff hopes dying out as the season's fourth month comes to an end. So stay tuned Giants fans, and really hope for the best. I think this team has enough drive and enough talent to keep themselves in the mix and avoid being sellers come July 31st, but at the same time, unless they really take off between now and the 31st to where management deems them a likely World Series contender, I'd be surprised if the Giants made any noteworthy addition.

So my consensus on July 7th, with 24 days until the deadline is that the Giants will have to figure things out with the players they have on their current roster and in their farm system as I don't see them going over the CBT with hopes it keeps them in the Wild Card or NL West race. Still, it's going to be a fun 3+ weeks to watch as their rotation gets healthy and they have some sort of order in their bullpen. If only they could find that set lineup that could churn out 5+ runs on a consistent basis.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Call me crazy, but am I the only one that thinks Derek Holland is a better option than Jeff Samrardzja? OKay I know he just came off the DL, but how much more time will they give him and his 6.42 era. this guy hasn't been good since like july last season. Move him to the pen and let him sort it out and put Holland back in the rotation. Not the best pitcher but at least he can get a strikeout when needed, won't walk a ton of guys and mostly give the team a chance to win?

  • At 2:07 AM, Anonymous Bill Hahman said…

    I was at the game today (well, yesterday technically since it's past midnight) and I was just watching the midnight replay of the game and really got to see how good the Giants can be when they're on! They took 2 of 3 from the Cubs, which is a very good baseball team, and now they have a shot to really finish the first half strong if they can do the same to the A's, even better if they can sweep them.

    If they can sweep them lets say, that would make them 52-46 and no worse then 3 games behind AZ/LA and possible only one or two games. That's definitely competing for a playoff spot and I think they should act now to bring in another outfielder or two. The pitching seems really good with Cueto and Bumgarner back. I know cueto got roped in his first game back but will get better and was butter in Wednesday game. The pen I think too is fine, even with the injury to Strickland and what a bonehead move by that guy breaking his hand by punching a wall. He's so talented so I hate to see him go but this guy seems like the only real cancer in the clubhouse dating back to his stupid beaning of Bryce Harper last year. They can survive without him, we just need Melancon to step back up which he's clearly been doing and I think he should be closer again with Smith and MOronta the setup guys.

    But go get us an outfielder than can rake Mr. Evans/Sabean! I would be ecstatic if we could get our hands on someone like Adam Jones or I'd take Khris Davis too but I doubt the A's would trade him cuz I don't think he makes that much and he's probably they're best hitter. I dont think that kid they have in center is ready yet, drawing a blank on his name right now. Gorkys should be a 5th outfielder but if they could get another big hitter I'd be ok with him platooning with Austin Slater or Hunter Pence or whoever can start to hit a little bit. Ideally they could get two outfielders, one for center and left so Gorkys can be the 4th but I'm not greedy and I think one big time outfielder can put them over the top for sure.

    Keep it up Giants, win these last three and go into the break on a high note and management will have to look to add. If they start selling players and are under 5 games out I think fans will be mighty upset.

    Good article!

  • At 8:17 PM, Blogger SFGiants Blogger said…

    Yeah, your not crazy, Holland has definitely been better than "Shark" this season. As a matter of fact, and something I will probably touch on next post is the possibility of Samardzija either being traded or moved into the bullpen after the break. He's gotta start stringing together some quality outings and fast or else the Giants will certainly look into alternative options.


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