As Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reports, the Giants are expected to have only three truly untouchable players at the trade deadline: catcher Buster Posey, shortstop Brandon Crawford, and left-handed starter Madison Bumgarner. Morosi writes that “most of the remaining players likely will be available, to varying degrees, between now and July 31, even if the odds of a Johnny Cueto or Mark Melancon deal aren't especially high.”
It’s been expected for a while that the Giants will try to trade versatile utility man Eduardo Nunez before the deadline, as he’s a free agent at the end of the year and the Giants consider 22-year-old Christian Arroyo their third baseman of the future.
Aside from his availability, though, this sounds like a roundabout way of stating that the Giants are willing to move first baseman Brandon Belt and starter Jeff Samardzija. Morosi goes as far as to specifically mention the 29-year-old first baseman in his article, stating that Belt could be a good fit for the Angels, who will be looking to get back in contention as Josh Hamilton’s massive contract expires at the end of 2017. Belt would also seemingly be a good fit for the Yankees if they decide to pursue an upgrade at first over the next month.
If the Giants are going to shake up their core, Belt would seem to be the most obvious guy to move. Twice this season, Belt has been caught on camera having verbal disputes with Posey, who’s long been considered the heart and soul of the team. He’s also frustrated quite a few fans with his odd season at the plate, during which he’s gotten on base at a great rate but failed to make consistent contact, posting a .229/.346/.451 slash line with 14 homers. Belt, however, is in the first year of a five-year contract worth $72.8 million and has a 10-team no-trade clause, which could complicate matters.
Samardzija also could be an interesting trade candidate. While the 32-year-old right-hander has really only experienced good results in a couple of seasons, his high-90s velocity and the fact that he’s struck out 117 hitters and walked just 13 in 105 innings this year will undoubtedly be attractive to other clubs. He’s in the second season of a five-year deal worth $90 million, but that contract could actually be considered a plus by teams that are looking for better rotation depth.
Other than those two, there aren’t a lot of Giants players that would figure to fetch much value on the trade market. Second baseman Joe Panik is just 26 years old, has already won a Gold Glove, and has very good contact and on-base skills, but most other teams around the league are set at second base. Center fielder Denard Span is having a good year at the plate, but his fielding skills have significantly diminished and he’s still guaranteed $15 million after this season. Melancon and right fielder Hunter Pence are both in their 30s, have been bad this year, and have a lot of money remaining on their respective contracts.
Cueto, who has struggled all season, is a wild card since he is signed through 2021 but can opt out of his contract after this year. That means the club that would potentially acquire him wouldn’t know whether they’d be getting a rental or a 31-year-old starter who’s guaranteed $89 million if he doesn’t exercise the opt-out. Thus, the situation would be awkward for both the Giants and the potential trade partner, as San Francisco likely wouldn’t get much value back for a pitcher who has a 4.20 ERA in 2017 and can become a free agent this winter.