With the non-waiver trade deadline approaching on July 31, the San Francisco Giants have expressed interest in acquiring a starting caliber second-baseman. Now, this isn’t a surprise due to their lack of production at the position. This season, the second-base position has hit for a slash of .184/.271/.288 with 8 home runs and 31 runs batted in. Their wRC+ of 63 is 26th in the majors and 25th in WAR at zero. The experiments with Brandon Hicks and Dan Uggla have failed, but who do they target at the deadline?
According to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the Giants remain interested in Ben Zobrist, who is known for being a versatile on-base juggernaut. In 91 games this year, Zobrist has a .268/.358/.409 line with 8 home runs and an OPS of .767. He needs to be San Francisco’s main target right now. According to FanGraphs, he has a 6.0 defensive rating, which is well above average. With the notable (bad) defensive play from Dan Uggla, the Giants need a solid defender there. At second base, Zobrist has an 8.6 UZR/150 and a 3.1 UZR. Both show he has above average ability at second. He can also play both corner outfield positions at a high level and every infield position other than catcher. On top of it all, Zobrist is making just $7 million in 2014, which is down to near $3 million left, and $7.5 million for 2015, which is a team option.
The problem is the price. The Rays are reportedly looking for a colossal package for the utility man and San Francisco would likely have to give up their number one prospect, Kyle Crick. The willingness to give up the farm system is not there and general manager Brian Sabean stated he would rather give quantity over quality to improve the team. You can check out the Giants top 20 prospects here on MLB.com.
“We’ve told everybody that everybody we have is in play. There are no untouchables in our organization.” – Brian Sabean
Another name the Giants need to go after is Phillies’ second-baseman Chase Utley. His contract that runs through 2018, but years 2016-2018 are vesting options that are guaranteed if he has 500 plate appearances the previous season. Now, Utley has a no-trade clause, but he lives in the San Francisco area in the offseason, so convincing him to come here might not be a problem.
Utley, in 101 games this year has a slash of .291/.354/.433 with 8 home runs, 50 RBI, and a wRC+ of 119. He has a fangraphs WAR of 3.4, which ranks 5th in major league baseball among second-baseman’s. He is clearly one of the best middle infielders in the game and the Giants need to be aggressive to acquire him. He would likely take one “A-prospect” or 3 “B/C prospects.” Maybe a combination of Joe Panik, Ty Blach, and Aramis Garcia could be a starting point. On KNBR in San Francisco this past week, Sabean stated that in this market, “You can’t (unable to) trade two A-prospects for one B-prospect.”
The need for another bat in the lineup is essential for the Giants to take the next step and start beating teams that are over .500. Since June 9, the Giants are 15-27 and blew a 9.5 game lead in just three weeks. They sit at 57-43, 1.5 games back after getting swept by the Dodgers at home and start a three game series in San Francisco against the Pirates on Monday. The day of the non-waiver trade deadline, the team has an off day as they travel to the New York to face the struggling Mets.