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San Francisco Giants: Offensive Upgrade Options, Part 1

Aug 4, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) celebrates a home run with catcher Buster Posey (28) against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 4, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) celebrates a home run with catcher Buster Posey (28) against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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As stated on Saturday, the San Francisco Giants could benefit from adding a power bat to the lineup, to help contend against the National League’s other playoff hopefuls. This is especially crucial in 2016, with the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and New York Mets all looking better than any team the Giants faced in their recent World Series runs.

So, which players who might be available for trade would be of the greatest help to San Francisco? To figure that out, let’s take a look at which teams are not competing for the postseason this year: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Diego, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota, New York Yankees, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay.

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The Phillies have a nice 22-16 record, but it’s hard to imagine them keeping that up. They have some nice talent, but they’re young. And because they’re young, they don’t have much in terms of veteran pieces to trade—other than first baseman Ryan Howard. The Giants don’t want Howard. The Rays shouldn’t be written off, due to their deep rotation, but it’s difficult seeing them keep up with Baltimore, Boston and Toronto. The Yankees want to think they’re competitive, but their lineup is too old and their starting pitching too shaky.

From these 10 teams, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is the best player likely to be available. Sure, Braun alienated most baseball fans with his HGH episode a few years back, but he is a great player in the midst of his best season since getting busted. His 1.020 OPS is in the top 10 in the National League, despite hitting in an average to below-average lineup.

If the Brewers were better, Braun would likely be receiving the Bryce Harper pitch-around treatment. If Braun were on the Giants, surrounded by Posey, Pence and Belt, he would see more pitches to hit while raising the profiles of those batting around him.

Braun’s presence would push Pagan to the bench, but that would not be a bad thing, considering Pagan’s tendency to get hurt and how valuable he could be as a fourth outfielder or a possible platoon in center with Denard Span.

This potential trade option would depend heavily on whether the Giants have the minor league prospects to entice the Brewers, and whether they would want to take on Braun’s contract. He is in the first year of a 5-year, $105-million extension; while he is still owed most of that money, it looks like a fairly reasonable deal by MLB’s 2016 financial climate.

While Braun is best player most likely to be available, Mike Trout is the best player from one of these non-competing teams. Some chatter has bubbled up in the past few days about whether the Angels should or are considering trading Trout to replenish their decimated minor league system. While I don’t think it’s necessarily a horrible idea, I have no idea whether the Angels would even entertain trading Trout. And if they did, only a few organizations have the stockpile of prospects necessary to engaged the Angels in discussion. The Giants are not one of those teams.

Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun would be more in the Giants’ price range, but he wouldn’t be quite the upgrade needed.

Next: Do the Giants Need to Upgrade Their Offense?

Braun is the biggest realistic name to consider, while Trout is the biggest pipe-dream name out there. But there are other options out there for the Giants, if they decide to add one more potent bat to their lineup. Check back soon to see who those other big names are…

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