By: Chris Larson
Last time, the focus surrounded around the Detroit Tigers and what moves they need to make to have a successful Trade Deadline over the coming weeks leading up to July 31st. This time, we shift over to the National League and head out west by The Bay to focus on the San Francisco Giants.
With where the San Francisco Giants are in the overall landscape of baseball and with a new Front Office regime in place, that embraces analytics at a very high level, the time is now for the Giants to turn the page to a new chapter and focus on building up the next, great San Francisco Giants ball club. Now that Farhan Zaidi, former General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers is in place, the Giants are expected to be heavy sellers over the next few weeks and could even find a way to get, creative in some of their deals, to create payroll flexibility moving forward.
With all of that being said, here is what the Action Plan looks like for the San Francisco Giants between now and July 31st.
1. Minnesota Twins Acquire Starting Pitcher Madison Bumgarner - A few weeks ago, there was a lot of mumbling going on that the Minnesota Twins were very close to acquiring starting pitcher, Madison Bumgarner. Many believe the hold up was ultimately about a prospect that San Francisco kept demanding that the Minnesota Twins didn't want to give up, but eventually something is going to work out in that regard. The Twins are the perfect place for Bumgarner and the best part is that they are a team that isn't on his No-Trade list that was released earlier this season. There are other fits for Bumgarner as well including the: Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros, but all of those teams are on his eight team no-trade list. Therefore, Minnesota is the perfect destination because that is one less hurdle both teams have to worry about and the Twins would be adding a very familiar name to their starting rotation, along with someone who has a terrific postseason pedigree, to attempt to get the Twins back to the promise land for the first time since 1991.
2. Houston Astros Trade for Reliever Will Smith and First Baseman Brandon Belt - Yes, you read that right, in this proposed deal, the Houston Astros would acquire a left-handed reliever in Will Smith and a first baseman in Brandon Belt. Now, you might be wondering why exactly Houston would make this deal, but it's sort of two-fold. The Astros have a righty-dominant bullpen as it is now, so by adding a left-hander to the mix, Houston can up it's chances against opposing teams in the postseason and have a lefty that can handle high leverage situations. Furthermore, the Astros wouldn't have to give up much because it can be assumed that the San Francisco Giants would be asking for Houston's number one prospect, RHP Forrest Whitley or their number two prospect, OF Kyle Tucker, in return for Smith. Houston is still very bullish about both guys and while Whitley has struggled in Triple-A, the organization doesn't seem willing to cut ties with him just yet. Therefore, by taking on the salary that Brandon Belt is owed ($34.4 million dollars) over the next two seasons, Houston won't have to give up as much quality to acquire Smith and would get someone to occupy first base for them while their window is still open. In turn, the San Francisco Giants would be able to shave Belt's salary off of their payroll and create further payroll flexibility moving forward. While Belt does have a modified trade clause within his contract, that he can modify from year-to-year, it's hard to imagine that he wouldn't approve a trade to a team that could legitimately get him yet another World Series ring.
3. Trade Lefty Reliever, Tony Watson, to the Boston Red Sox - Over the next few weeks, Tony Watson is going to be a name that is floated around quite a bit in various trade rumors and the Boston Red Sox are certainly going to need to step it up if they want to acquire him given the demand, but since Boston currently lacks a lefty in their bullpen, this is one acquisition that makes a ton of sense. Beyond the lefty factor, the Red Sox wouldn't have to pay a lot either. Watson is owed a little north of $1.5 million dollars for the remainder of this season and his contract includes a, player option valued at $2.5 million dollars or a $500,000 dollar buyout, for next season. Therefore, given how close to the Luxury Tax Threshold the Red Sox currently are, Watson could easily be added to their team without interfering with that threshold too much and would give Boston a proven arm to add to the back end of their bullpen. In return, a potential piece going back to San Francisco would be Boston's number 9 prospect, OF Jarren Duran, who many scouts expect to reach the big leagues come 2021 and occupy centerfield at the major league level. Duran would be a great compliment to the future outfield of Heliot Ramos and Heath Quinn for San Francisco and would give the Giants another quality offensive piece for the future.
4. Make a Trade with the In-Division Los Angeles Dodgers - Here's yet another out-of-the-box move as part of the San Francisco Giants Trade Deadline Action Plan. With this trade, new General Manager, Farhan Zaidi, would be making a trade with Andrew Friedman & Company at his former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. In this trade, the Giants would send reliever, Sam Dyson, over to Los Angeles, who has had severe issues in the 7th and 8th innings out of the bullpen this year, along with second baseman, Joe Panik. Essentially with this deal, the Dodgers would be adding Panik to a mix of position players that can already play all over the diamond. However, it would allow Max Muncy to move back to first base on a full-time basis and would put current first baseman, Joc Pederson, back in left field where he has played primarily during his career. Of course, matchups would give the Dodgers an opportunity to change the grouping up, but that would be how the defensive alignment could look on a given night. In addition, the Dodgers would receive reliever, Sam Dyson, who is under control through next season and will be arbitration eligible again this offseason. Joe Panik is also arbitration eligible this winter meaning that this is a deal that could fit within the Los Angeles Dodgers financial landscape. Once again, by making this trade, Farhan Zaidi would get more payroll flexibility moving forward.
5. Focus on Selling the Phillies with the Idea of Trading for Kevin Pillar - Defense has once again been a significant issue for the Philadelphia Phillies and they certainly are in need of an upgrade in centerfield, if they want to continue chasing down the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, in the National League East. That's where current San Francisco Giants centerfielder, Kevin Pillar, comes into the picture. Pillar is a defensive wizard in centerfield and would certainly upgrade the Phillies defense tremendously. Furthermore, the Phillies wouldn't be getting Pillar as only a rental for this season, but would have control of him next year as well which means that centerfield would be cemented through at least the end of next year. Offensively, Kevin Pillar, doesn't necessarily have the biggest bat of all centerfielders in baseball, but with the depth in the Phillies lineup, they can afford to have a dip in offense at centerfield, while getting an upgrade defensively at that position. In return, the Giants should be able to net a mid-to-lower level prospect with someone like Philadelphia Phillies number 16 prospect, LHP Cole Irvin, an intriguing name. Philadelphia Phillies fans might not want to give up on Irvin, but the team possesses a ton of starting pitching depth that it should deal from and the San Francisco Giants would be getting someone that can step into their starting rotation in the not to distant future.