The San Francisco Giants currently hold the best record in baseball. And with the MLB non-waiver trade deadline only a few weeks away, it is a given that the Giants will be buyers. Given it is an even numbered year are we really surprised. The Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. So while there is no real reason behind the trend, it is a trend none the less.
The Giants are clearly going to be gearing up for a long playoff run. General manager Bobby Evans and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Brian Sabean are known for making savvy moves come this time of year. During the years they won the World Series, the Giants always made smaller trades that paid off big time. Their front office knows what it needs to do to reach the promised land.
In 2010 they locked down the bullpen, acquiring Javier Lopez from the Pirates and Ramon Ramirez from the Red Sox. Both deals cost the Giants minor leaguers who have done nothing in the six years since those deals. In August they also claimed Cody Ross off waivers from the Marlins.
In 2012 it was more about the bats. Marco Scutaro was acquired from Colorado, with the Giants once again giving up virtually nothing. Deadline day saw a larger acquisition, with Hunter Pence being brought into the fold. They needed to give up top prospect Tommy Joseph, who is finally getting a chance with the Phillies now. That trade off has certainly paid off for the Giants.
2014 saw Jake Peavy brought to the Bay Area from Boston in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Once again a move that required little in regards to what was lost. All of these moves followed a common theme. They filled a need for the club, but not at a hefty price. Evans and Sabean are extremely good at what they do and know how to work a deal. They pick the right targets for their club and make sure the price is not one that will hurt the club.
So that brings us to this season. What are the teams’ needs? Starting pitching depth is chief among those needs, as the team is currently going with only four starters. Cueto and Bumgarner are the clear one-two punch of the team, with Jeff Samardzija providing a decent number three. Jake Peavy has not had the greatest season as the four, and Matt Cain is currently out with a hamstring injury. So adding a back-end of the rotation piece to stabilize the end of the rotation could be in the works.
The infield has also been hit with injuries, with starting second baseman Joe Panik and third baseman Matt Duffy both out with injuries. Both men are expected back shortly after the All-Star break, but adding some depth to either position would not be the worst idea in the world. A super-utility guy who could play across the infield would be the most ideal.
Following the pattern of injuries, outfielders Denard Span and Hunter Pence are also both hurt. Pence is on the shelf with a torn hamstring, and he is likely out until August. Span has not played for a week now with a neck injury, and a trip to the DL is certainly a possibility. Gregor Blanco has also been dealing with his own health issues, and has not exacly been lighting the world on fire while he has been in the lineup. An outfield addition is certainly possible.
The bullpen has had it’s rough patches this season, and the club has been linked to the likes of Andrew Miller of the Yankees. So it is evident they are also searching for bullpen help as well. A name like Miller’s however is not the typical Giants move, as he would cost a pretty penny. For that reason, he has been left off this list of under the radar trade targets.
Jed Lowrie (Oakland) – Lowrie is the perfect example of a guy that can be plugged in all over the infield. If Panik or Duffy take longer than expected, or suffer a setback, Lowrie could start at either spot without blinking an eye. Currently a member of the A’s, he is certain to be available given Billy Beane’s history with trades. Lowrie has one year plus a club option left on his deal, so he is more than just a rental as well. A trip across the Bay could land the Giants that utility man they need who is hitting a respectable .283 with some power, all at a decent price. The 32 year old would probably cost a few lower level prospects, or one mid range kind of guy.
Yangervis Solarte (San Diego) – Solarte, despite having three years of arbitration left on his deal, is not likely to be in the Padres long-term plans. Currently serving as their starting third baseman, the 29 year old is better suited for a utility role that does not have him starting every single day. He has been hitting well of late, with his average sitting at .308 on the season. Throw him on a contending team like the Giants, and he could easily fill the role of utility man with ease. He would likely come at an even cheaper price than Lowrie.
Andres Blanco (Philadelphia) – Now if the Giants want to go dirt cheap, they can go out and get Blanco. Blanco is currently serving as the utility man in Philly, as he is playing all over the field. He will be a free agent at the end of the season, so it would make sense for Philly to get anything that is offered to them for him. The Phillies are rebuilding and getting younger, and the 32 year old likely has no future with the Phils. So the Giants could offer up a low level prospect, and the Phillies would be foolish not to take it. His production will not be at the level of Lowrie or even Solarte in all likelihood, but Blanco fits that typical Giants move.
Cody Asche (Philadelphia) – The Phillies are going to be a theme on this list. They will be sellers at the deadline and they have plenty of pieces that could move. Asche used to be one of their better known prospects as a third baseman, but after struggling and the promotion of top prospect Maikel Franco, he was sent down and learned to play the outfield. When he first came up I was a big fan of Asche’s. And at only 26 years old, I would like to think that potential is still in there somewhere. He is currently hitting .272 with 12 doubles over the course of 103 at bats. He still has some power potential, and three years of control left. Not someone the Phillies are going to be sad to move on from, as they feel they have better potential options, meaning he should come at a pretty nice (cheap) price. Sounds like a Giants kind of move to me.
Josh Reddick (Oakland) – Reddick is hands down the best player on this list, and one that will likely cost the Giants the most. But there are some factors that should keep the price down a bit. For starters, he will be a free agent after this season, making him a rental. Given the Giants would only be acquiring his services for a few months, his price will be cheaper than it would have been had he had a few years left. He also just came back from a hand injury, which can provide the front office with a bargaining chip in negotiations. Reddick has not exactly been tearing things up since his return, which the Giants can say could be a result of the injury. If they can get the price low enough, Reddick and his power would be a welcome addition to the middle of the order.
Ryan Raburn (Colorado) – Here is another one of my super cheap guys. At 35 and a free agent at the end of the season, the Rockies need to take whatever they are offered for Raburn. He is only hitting .232, but does have seven home runs. The Giants can point to the average and low ball the Rockies as far as they can. Raburn is capable of playing all over the outfield, and has some real power. He would be the type of acquisition who is not going to start, but is simply added for depth. If the Giants are not all banged up still come the end of the month, or are not happy with current depth guys Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson, Raburn would make for the perfect addition.
Matt Moore (Tampa Bay) – Matt Moore was once one of the most highly touted young arms in baseball. And then he got hurt, and simply has not gotten back to that elite level. But we know he owns those skills from a few years ago, and he is still only 27. With a contract that has three club options, he could be an appealing piece to have going forward. His last few starts he has pitched quite well. He still owns a 4.54 ERA on the season, which is part of why the Rays would be willing to move on from their former number one prospect. Given his potential, he will likely cost a little more than most guys on this list, but still a decent price I think the Giants would be smart to pay. Giving him a fresh start in the National League, in the back end of the rotation is a way to take the pressure off of him, and allow him to reach his potential.
Jeremy Hellickson (Philadelphia) – A free agent at the end of the season, the Phillies will have no issues dealing Hellickson for a prospect or two. He has had a pretty decent season for Philly, and he will be sent somewhere to fill out the end of a rotation. Fits perfectly with what the Giants need, and he would get to move from the hitter friendly park of Citizen’s Bank, to the pitching friendly home of AT&T. The 29 year old fits the description of exactly what the Giants will be seeking.
Dan Straily (Cincinnati) – Straily has had himself a pretty decent season. And given the Reds are always blasted for their lack of pitching, he sticks out as one of their bright spots. He is on a team friendly deal, and has three years of arbitration left. The 27 year old does not have the ceiling of Matt Moore, but for a guy that is filling out a rotation, he will certainly do. The Reds will not ask as much as the Rays will, as Straily’s price tag will be closer to that of Hellickson. Even with that, hi 4.34 ERA will not command any top prospects, and he certainly fits the bill of low key Giants acquisition.
Dan Hudson/Brad Ziegler (Arizona) – Ziegler is having a better season of the two, but Hudson has age on his side. Ziegler is 36, while Hudson is 29 and a former top prospect with the White Sox. Both men have had their issues with walks on the season. Ziegler overcomes that issue by being a ground ball pitcher. Hudson overcomes it with a 95 mile an hour fastball, and some strikeouts. Both men are free agents after the season, making Ziegler the more appealing of the two, especially given his role as a closer. He has been more successful this season, and as a rental, age does not really matter. Ziegler seems like the typical Giants bullpen add. Hudson will likely come at a slightly cheaper price however, and holds more of a future if they wanted to retain his services.
UPDATE – Ziegler has been traded to Boston
Jeanmar Gomez (Philadelphia) – Gomez is having himself a surprisingly solid season as the Phillies closer. He is still at a prime age at 28 years old, and currently has an ERA of 2.68 and a WHIP of 1.12. He has proven he can close out ballgames, saving 23 of 25 this season. He also has one more year left on his deal, making him more than a rental piece. He will likely cost a mid-level type of prospect due to all of these factors. Given his success on the season, it is hard to argue if the Giants went out and acquired him.
The names may not be flashy, but that is precisely what the Giants are known for. They will make a move or two that most people will shrug off, as it is for a name not every fan will know. But come October, these are the exact moves that pay off huge for San Fran. So keep your eye out for the Giants’ front office slipping one past everyone. We could very well see one of these names getting a clutch hit or pitching important innings in a Giants uniform come October.