We’re eleven days away from the MLB trade deadline and there seems to be only a handful of sellers right now. The Phillies, Marlins, Padres, Braves, White Sox have all expressed interest in selling off some pieces while the Athletics, Red Sox, and Mariners are waiting it out to see where they are at the deadline.
The reigning World Series champion Giants, as of right now, are looking to add to their aging roster. They sit at 49-43 after sweeping the Phillies and Diamondbacks, but are 3.5 games back in the division, and one game back of the second Wild Card slot.
The club has dealt with multiple injuries such as Hunter Pence missing a couple months with a fractured wrist and tendinitis in the same wrist. Nori Aoki fractured his right fibula before the All Star break and will end up missing close to twenty games. Then Matt Cain and Jake Peavy both missed the first couple months of the season, but are back now and have been somewhat mediocre in their first couple starts.
An unusual strength for the Giants has been their hitting. They are second in baseball in weighted runs created (wRC+) while excluding pitchers and are first among MLB clubs in position player fWAR. With everybody healthy the Giants have three solid outfielders: Aoki, Pence and Gregor Blanco and two other floundering outfielders: Angel Pagan, and Justin Maxwell. Their outfield depth could use some help.
One option is Cameron Maybin of the Atlanta Braves. He has struggled in recent years with the Marlins and Padres, but has re-energized himself back in the American League East. The 28 year old center fielder is slashing .285/.354/.409 with a 113 wRC+, and 1.1 fWAR. He is on a stable contract that makes him about $3 million for the rest of the year, $8 million in 2016, and a $9 million team option (1MM buyout) in 2018. He wouldn’t cost a whole lot, because of his dreadful past seasons, but reports have said they want to package him with third baseman Chris Johnson, who is on a terrible contract that guarantees him over $20 million the next three seasons.
Another outfield option would be Gerardo Parra of the Brewers. His defense has regressed, but he can play all the outfield positions. The 28 year old is slashing .313/.348/.500 with a 0.8 fWAR. He’s a free agent this winter, so it wouldn’t take a whole lot to acquire him.
For some infield depth the Giants could target Yangervis Solarte. The 28-year old utility infielder would give the club depth and some power off the bench. He is slashing .255/.324/.373 with a 100 wRC+ in 826 career plate appearances. Their best bench infield bat right now is Joaquin Arias, who is slugging .281 so Solarte would be a huge upgrade. He has played every infield position the past two seasons. The Padres would be an intra-division trade, but this is a relatively small deal that could happen if the Giants are the top bidder.
Carlos Gomez, who is slashing .268/.392/.440 with a 1.7 fWAR, is an option, but he’s a 29 year old with one more year left with a huge market. A team will likely give up a good chunk of their farm for the center fielder and it won’t be the Giants. He would be a big upgrade over Pagan, though.
Giants’ General Manager Bobby Evans on rentals in a KNBR interview:
Of course yeah you have to be open minded, because the fact is the best deal may be a rental. Part of the rental market and the challenge of it is just making sure what you’re giving up matches the fact that this is not a piece that you’re going to be able to hang your hat on long term…
While position player depth is a concern, their pitching is the main one going into the trade deadline. They rank 27th in pitching fWAR, 18th in FIP, 16th in xFIP, 19th K-BB%, and 26th in FIP- among major league teams. They could use some help in both the rotation and bullpen.
LHP Will Smith, 26, probably isn’t available on the market, but is arbitration eligible after 2016 and is having a great season. He has a 2.06 ERA, 2.03 FIP, 2.90 xFIP in 35 innings pitched while 32.2% of the batters he’s faced. Jeremy Affeldt has struggled, so he could essentially take his role in the bullpen or they could use three lefties, because of Smith’s struggles with lefties this year, but dominance against righties.
Giants’ closer Santiago Casilla has struggled this year with a 3.99 FIP, 3.73 xFIP in 34.1 innings pitched. He has given up 4 homers, 16 walks, while striking out 34. He is 24 of 28 in save opportunities, but that seems unsustainable with his peripherals.
Aroldis Chapman, LHP, would be huge for San Francisco, but his price is going to be too much for a reliever, who is a free agent after next year. There’s no question that he would greatly improve the bullpen, though. He has an unbelieabley high strikeout percentage (43) and a high walk rate (12.3), but he still has a career 2.22 ERA, 1.92 FIP, and 2.15 xFIP.
RHP A.J. Ramos, who is arbitration eligible in the offseason, could be available, but he would be a tough get. He has a 1.55 ERA, 2.12 FIP, 2.72 xFIP with 50 strikeouts and 11 walks. With a career low walk rate, the Marlins will likely want to hold onto him, but it wouldn’t be a bad time to trade the 28 year old.
Some other relief options are:
– Francisco Rodriguez RHP (33 years old, 34 IP, 1.32 ERA, 2.38 FIP, 2.52 xFIP, 4MM guaranteed for 2016).
– Shawn Kelley RHP (31 years old, 32 IP, 3.38 ERA, 2.69 FIP, 2.95 xFIP, 0.5 fWAR, free agent after 2015)
– Zach Putnam RHP (28 years old, 30 IP, 3.60 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 2.81 xFIP, arbitration eligible in 2017).
– Jumbo Diaz RHP (31 years old, 6.38 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 3.05 xFIP, -0.1 fWAR, 1.88 HR/9)
As a buyer of starting pitching this year the demand is going to be unbearable. Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Mike Leake, Mat Latos are all free agents at season’s end and will still garner good prospects in return while Cole Hamels is on the market with a manageable contract. It would take multiple top prospects to snag Cueto, Samardzija, and Hamels, but Leake and Latos could be had for quite a bit less. The problem is that Latos isn’t pitching well posting a 4.90 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, which is what Madison Bumgarner, Chris Heston, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy, and Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong could give you. It’s the same problem with Leake. The only way the Giants make a move for a starting pitcher is if it’s a top of the line guy.
To give you an idea of possible packages for starters the Athletics moved top prospect Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Strailey for Samardzija, Jason Hammel. The Athletics then traded Yoenis Cespedes, 2015 competitive balance round B pick for a couple months of Jon Lester, Johnny Gomes. The Giants traded Edwin Escobar, Heath Hembree for Jake Peavy last year, which ended up being good for San Francisco, but Peavy’s value was at an all time low with his 4.72 ERA.
When the deadline comes I would guess the Giants try to acquire a package of, for example, Kelley and Solarte from San Diego to help out two different needs down the stretch. I don’t expect a huge move from General Manager Bobby Evans and President Brian Sabean, but a couple mild moves could be on the horizon. With close to $50 million off the books next year I’m assuming they could take on a bigger contract to give up less assets.