The Giants are in the middle of a skid, but according to reports, the team doesn’t plan to sell off their assets before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
Despite re-signing many of last season’s top contributors to their 107-win season, and adding marquee free agents such as Carlos Rodon, who finished top-five in AL Cy Young award voting in 2021, and Joc Pederson, a key member of the Braves World Series run, the Giants have faltered.
Before splitting the first two games of their-four game set with the Cubs, the Giants were swept in back-to-back series, and went winless on a seven-game road trip for the first time since 1985.
Both sweeps were against division rivals, and, as of Saturday morning, the Giants find themselves two games below .500, and 18.5 games back of the first-place Dodgers in the NL West.
And yet, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Thursday the team wouldn’t be sellers.
I’m going to have to respectfully disagree. Pederson and first baseman Brandon Belt are free agents at season’s end, while Rodon has a player option that kicked in after he threw his 110th inning, making him susceptible to leave this offseason. The Giants would be better off shipping those guys out, retooling their farm system with guys who will be ready by 2023, and looking ahead to next season. They’re not better than the Dodgers, Padres, Mets, Braves, Brewers, or Cardinals — so why try to force it?
One reason the Giants could be forcing it is the additional wild card spot the MLB added this past offseason. The Giants find themselves just four games out of the sixth and final wild-card spot, and feel that anything can happen come playoff time as long as you get in — just ask the 2019 Nationals.
Obviously, I’m not in charge of the Giants — that’s Farhan Zaidi’s job — so I can’t make that decision for them. And even though I disagree, they probably will end up buyers over the next couple of days. Thus, here’s a look at some guys who they should go after.
One giant hole (no pun intended) in San Francisco’s roster that was rather amplified in their seven-game losing streak is left-handed relief pitching. Due to injuries and the struggles of Jake McGee, what the Giants once saw as a strength is now their greatest weakness. They’ve relied heavily on Sam Long and Jarlín García, and for most of the year, that worked out — both guys had sub-2.00 ERAs as recent as early July. But that didn’t last long (no pun intended).
Long was on the mound for Cody Bellinger’s go-ahead 8th-inning grand slam last week (although none of those runs were earned due to an error that inning). He also allowed four earned runs over his two appearances against the Diamondbacks.
As for García, in his four appearances since the All-Star break, he’s allowed four earned runs in just two full innings of work. He’s raised his ERA almost a full point.
But there’s good news for the Giants, as some of baseball’s best lefty relievers are up for grabs this trade deadline.
Possible trade targets
The first guy that comes to mind is one that I mentioned as an option for the Dodgers in Tigers’ reliever Andrew Chafin.
Chafin has an ERA of 2.53 across his 32 innings of work, and has allowed a batting average of just .207 against him. He’s dominant against both righties and lefties, allowing a batting average of .191 to right-handed hitters, and .229 to lefties.
A second option that comes to mind is the Rangers’ Matt Moore. Moore, who’s pitching in his 11th season in the MLB, is playing in his first as a full-time reliever. And let’s just say it’s working.
Moore has a 1.66 ERA across 48.2 innings, and has allowed opponents to hit just .192 against him. Similar to Chafin, he’s good against hitters on both sides of the plate, although he’s even more dominant against righties, and slightly less effective against left-handed hitters.
One final and potentially best option for the Giants could actually be a right-handed reliever. Aside from Friday night’s game against these Giants in which he gave up two earned runs, Cubs closer David Robertson has been virtually unhittable this year. He had given up just two earned runs in all of July, and entered Friday’s game with a 1.83 ERA.
And what’s even more impressive about Robertson is how dominant he’s been against left-handed hitting. Including Friday night’s dud, he’s allowed a batting average of just .156 to lefties, which is even better than the .169 he’s given up to righties.
Even though the Giants got to him Friday, they should be scouting him a little extra during this four-game series, and could get one more opportunity to get a look at him Sunday — just in time for the Aug. 2 deadline.
And speaking of these Cubs, the Giants have also gotten a pretty good look at their catcher and one of the hottest names this trade deadline, Willson Contreras. The Giants have struggled to get production out of the catcher position this season — Joey Bart is hitting .184, Curt Casali is hitting .231, and Austin Wynns is hitting .205.
Contreras, although expensive, would be a huge addition to the Giants’ lineup, and could help transition them a little more smoothly into the post-Buster Posey era. Contreras is slashing .252/.369/.460 this season, with 14 home runs and 37 RBI. Bart, Casali, and Wynns have a combined 11 home runs and 35 RBI on the year.
The Giants could potentially put a package deal together for both Robertson and Contreras, in what could turn out to be the biggest move of the deadline if Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani stay put (although the Mariners may have taken that crown in the Luis Castillo deal).
So, are they buyers or sellers?
It’ll be interesting to see which way Zaidi and the Giants decide to go. I don’t think anyone would blame them for going in either direction. But if I had to guess whether they choose to become buyers or sellers with the trade deadline less than a week away — even if they’re better off looking ahead to next season — based on the history of the Giants and the track record of Zaidi, I think it’s safe to assume they’ll be adding a few pieces by early next week.