As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
San Francisco Giants: 44-40, 3rd in the NL West
After having a surprising 98-loss campaign in 2017 and having some bad luck with injuries to Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto to start this year, the Giants have somehow weathered these storms and are in the hunt for the NL West and a NL wild card spot (3 1⁄2 games behind the Diamondbacks in the division, 1 1⁄2 games behind the Phillies for the second wild card).
Because they are in the mix, this puts San Francisco in a tough spot as the deadline approaches. Do they try to stick to their original plan of trying to make a playoff run with mostly a veteran roster by becoming buyers or do they sell off their biggest pieces and start rebuilding?
Right now, it looks as if they will be “buyers,” but that may change if they fall out of playoff contention in the next 32 days.
What moves have they made so far?
The Giants have not made any big moves during the regular season. The reason for that is because they made two big trades in the offseason by acquiring former Rays star Evan Longoria and former Pirates star Andrew McCutchen.
Even though they are improved as a team, the Giants have not received ideal results from both McCutchen and Longoria. Longoria has struggled by his standards and he is out for the next two months with a hand fracture. McCutchen has played OK, but he is not the player that led the Pirates to a resurgence back in the day.
Who could they acquire (or sell)?
If the Giants are going to be buyers, they have to look into acquiring either an extra starter, a reliever or an outfielder.
There are two problems with trying to acquire the first two positions. First, they are positions of need for every contending team, so making deals with any contender, especially in the NL, is probably out of the question. Second, they are close to the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold, so acquiring any high-priced arm will require them to get rid of as much salary as they can in order to make the move work and not be over the threshold for a sixth straight season.
As far as an outfielder goes, it is not a pressing need because they have young players such as Austin Slater and Steven Duggar waiting in the wings.
If they are going to be sellers, this is where things get interesting.
It has been suggested as early as late April that the Giants “should consider” looking into the possibility of dealing Bumgarner. By putting Bumgarner, a three-time World Series champion, World Series MVP in 2014, a four-time All-Star and a four-time NL Cy Young top-10 finisher, he would be the most sought-after name on the market. More importantly for the Giants, a deal involving him would generate a ton of prospects in return and would replenish their farm system, which ranks one of the worst in baseball. The kicker, though, is that Bumgarner has a $12 million club option for 2019, which they will gladly pick up after this season given his historical production for the franchise.
They could also try to deal McCutchen, Samardzija, Cueto, Longoria, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence and Joe Panik in an attempt to reboot the roster as well. However, the Giants will not receive the kind of franchise-changing prospects in return compared to a deal involving Bumgarner.
The Giants will stay in contention long enough that they wind up not making any big moves before the deadline. If anything, they will acquire a reliever on the cheap so they can stay under the threshold and be a player in free agency this coming winter.
The option of trading Bumgarner is tempting, but it is not going to happen. Along with Buster Posey, Bumgarner has been a rock to this franchise and it would be hard for management to part ways with a guy who has made the club experience its best stretch of success since the 1920s, when they made four World Series appearances and won two of them. By not dealing him, it will be a sign that the Giants will extend Bumgarner’s contract before the end of 2019.