The San Francisco Giants currently sit 10 games back in the NL West, as well as the wild card race. After backing into the wildcard spot last season only to be embarrassed by the Cubs in the NLDS, the Giants appear as though their window of success with this current core might be closing. There are some pieces that they can keep and build upon on the current roster, but the reality is that big-name free agent signings over the past few years have left them with a depleted farm system that only boasts 2 current prospects in the MLB top 100 (RHP Tyler Beed #77 and INF Christian Arroyo #78) and nothing else significant in the pipeline. They need to SELL right now and get as much youth as possible in return but because of a few questionable contracts and no-trade clauses, the Giants are stuck between a rock and a hard place in regard to moving players. Here is a breakdown of who they should build upon, who they might be stuck with and who they should try and move ASAP…..
-Buster Posey, C, 31 years old
Posey is the face of the franchise along with being signed until 2022 and is having an outstanding season thus far. Obviously, he would command a king’s ransom if dealt but that won’t be happening since he’s arguably the best catcher in MLB along with having a full no-trade clause. Posey will be a Giant until his career ends.
-Joe Panik, 2B, 26 years old
Joe Panik won’t be a free agent until 2021 and is still too young with too high of a ceiling to be traded at this point of his career. His numbers this season aren’t as good as expected, but he’s only 26 and with exception of 2 players on the Giants, the offense as a whole is terrible this season. Panik is making $600K until 2021 which while surely keep him in Giants orange for a very long time.
-Brandon Crawford, SS, 30 years old
Similar to Posey, Crawford has been another face of this franchise and is signed until 2022 for big money. He’s a top shortstop in the league and along with Panik, gives San Francisco a great middle infield that would be hard to replace if you were to trade him away. Also, like Panik, his numbers aren’t ideal this season but improved hitting is certainly a strong possibility with Crawford and I suspect this will happen eventually.
-Madison Bumgarner, SP, 27 years old
When healthy, Bumgarner is a top 5 MLB pitcher and your ace for the future to build a staff around. In fact, a big part of moving players for youth this season is to secure enough money to resign Bumgarner when his contract is up in 2020. He isn’t going anywhere now or in 2020 when he becomes an UFA.
YOU MIGHT BE STUCK WITH THESE GUYS
-Brandon Belt, 1B, 29 years old
Although Belt has been part of the 2 of the 3 recent Giants World Series Championships rosters, I don’t feel that he ever actually lived up to the hype he had coming into MLB as a rookie. Yes, he does have 2 rings, but he also had only 2 seasons where he hit above .280 and the reality is he is very replaceable. Sure, based on his resume and being only 29 years old he would seem to fetch a lot of attention in the trade market, however, the Giants made the questionable decision to give him a contract that doesn’t make him a free agent until 2022 when he’ll be 34 years old and also includes a modified no trade clause. His high contract and mediocre play will keep him in San Francisco unless they are willing to pay part of his salary for him to go away.
-Hunter Pence, OF, 34 years old
Hunter Pence is far past his prime, has terrible numbers this season, and isn’t a free agent until 2019. Once again, the Giants are handicapped by a full no trade clause and moving him this season will be difficult, to say the least. There is a chance a team might trade for him if their outfield is struck by injury and they have limited options, but $18.5 million a season for the next 2 years, that’s highly unlikely unless Giants are willing to pay part of his salary to leave San Francisco.
-Jeff Samardzija, SP, 32 years old
I didn’t understand why the Giants signed Samardzija for much as they did a few years ago, and due to his modified no trade clause and $19.8 million a season until 2021 he will remain in San Francisco for a while. He’s a good #3 or #4 pitcher in a rotation, but is highly overpaid and hasn’t been a #1 his entire career and that doesn’t look like it’ll change anytime soon. If they were able to move him, I think they wouldn’t get anything too good in return other than the relief that his $19.8 million a season would be some other team’s problem.
-Mark Melancon, RP, 32 years old
This past season’s big addition for the Giants was not a bad signing for San Francisco since they did need a closer (a new bullpen altogether in all honesty), but what’s the use of having a closer that costs you $42 million until 2021 if he rarely gets into a game to make a save? His deal is back-loaded at $14 million a season in 2019 and 2020 which will complicate trying to trade him, plus, a full no trade clause. He might be the most tradeable player for all listed in this section, but he’s only appeared in 17 games so far with 2 blown saves, however he is still a solid closer and a team with issues at that position might take a long look at Melancon at the deadline but the no trade clause leaves the decision up to Melancon.
TRADE ME RIGHT NOW
-Johnny Cueto, SP, 31 years old
You’ll never get more for Johnny Cueto than you’ll get right now which is why San Francisco MUST trade Cueto ASAP and get a great return for him. Although he is over 30 years old, he is under contract until 2021 for $17 Million a season with a club option of $22 million in 2022. Cueto is as good of a #2 SP in a rotation that you’ll find in MLB and since the Giants (somehow?!?) were able to sign him without a no trade clause, he could become one of the top SP available via trade at the deadline. I think every team that is in contention right now would certainly take a long look at Cueto and what it would cost them. There is no doubt that the Giants would get offered a top prospect in return from more than one team for Cueto. He would be a great fit for the Cubs since Arrietta will be gone after this season and Cueto’s $17 million a season is a fair price. Until then if the Cubs did make a trade for him, a Lester, Cueto, Arrietta, Hendricks, Lackey rotation would be a force to be reckoned with if all are healthy and on top of their game and could certainly make the Cubs chances of repeat champions a reality.
-Matt Cain, SP, 32 years old
After spending his entire career with the Giants, I think this will be his last season in Giants uniform regardless if they trade him this season or decline his $21 million club option after this season. He is a great “rental” player that would likely get you a legit prospect in return from a team that has a loaded farm system. I could see him heading to the Cubs or Astros at the deadline with either team giving up a solid farm system player that won’t affect the future of either team. He would be a good #4 or a great #5 for a contender that need back of the rotation help.
-Matt Moore, SP, 27 years old
After a few outstanding seasons in Tampa, Moore’s tenure in San Francisco has not really gone as well as planned. He is currently 2-6 with a 5.22 ERA and is currently in the midst of his worst season since entering MLB. His age is a huge selling point since he is only 27 and has two low club options of $9.5 million in 2018 and $10 Million in 2019. Similar to Cain, he would be a good #4 or a great #5 and his contract that doesn’t include a no trade clause makes him very attractive at the deadline. San Francisco might consider hanging onto him for those same reasons, but if a contender offered you one or two valuable farm system players, I think you have to take that call and move Moore immediately.
-Eduardo Nunez, INF, 29 years old
Nunez is in a contract year where he becomes an UFA at this season’s end and I am willing to state with 100% certainty that he will be traded by the deadline. He is having the best season of his career and is able to play both infield and outfield which makes him one of the best utility players available via trade. Nunez should fetch a good prospect in return, and would be great fit on a team looking to add depth like the Angels, Cardinals, Brewers or Red Sox.
-Denard Span, OF, 33 years old
Span is under contract until 2018, with a mutual option of $12 million in 2019 which isn’t too bad for a team looking to add short-term outfield depth at the deadline. Age is working against him since he is 33 and having the worst year of his career, but teams could certainly do far worse than Denard Span. He can still get on base and steal you bases while adding veteran leadership, but isn’t an everyday outfielder anymore at this point in his career. Not sure how much you would get in return for Span, but if anything the Giants would like to get the $10.33 million that is still remaining on his contract off the books since he is not part of the long-term plan in San Francisco. He would be a good addition to the team like the Angels, Astros, Brewers or Cardinals.
The Giants can either let the dumpster fire that is the 2017 season continue to burn or try and make the most out of a lost season at the deadline. San Francisco is a great organization that knows how to develop players and also attract free agents, the ladder of which could cost them more 1st round picks in the future. They need to fix their depleted farm system immediately to remain relevant in an NL West division that currently looks to be one of, if not the best in MLB with no signs of things changing in the future. Even the last place Padres have an extremely bright future with a stacked minor league system what will be emerging in the next few seasons to compete with the Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks, all of whom are playing great baseball right now backed by some serious talent in the minors. I expect that that Giants might be the most active team at the deadline come July, with their sights set on rebuilding for the immediate future.