San Francisco Giants: Offensive Upgrade Options, Part 3
The San Francisco Giants have been playing great lately, having won five in a row headed into Tuesday’s series opener against the Padres in San Diego. But they’re still a ways away from looking like favorites to beat the Chicago Cubs and a couple of National League East teams on their way to a fourth World Series this decade. In the past couple days we have looked at a few players who could help fortify the Giants’ offense in their pursuit of the title. Now we take one last look—for now, at least—at who else the Giants should considering trading for in the next couple months.
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Oakland is the day trader of Major League Baseball, always looking to flip their players to maximize value. So, if they have some valuable assets, which they do, they undoubtedly are open for business. The problem is that the A’s and Giants are not likely trade candidates. Teams sharing a metropolitan area generally don’t like to swap players, in the event the trade works out better for one team. The loser in the deal is likely to be flogged by its fans, who only have to look across town to see their former player(s)/prospect(s) thriving in another uniform.
On top of that, the A’s and Giants have a rather icy relationship, due to the territorial rights issue that is keep A’s ownership from moving the franchise to the more lucrative pasture of San Jose.
But if somehow these superfluous impediments can be overcome, the Giants should take a look at Josh Reddick, Danny Valencia and Khris Davis. Reddick is better than Bruce, but not quite as good as Freeman (all three are left-handed hitters). Either he or Pence would have to slide over to left field to make that work. Davis is primarily a left fielder. He has the power for 30-plus home runs, though he is not a very good all-around hitter.
The best Oakland option, frankly, is Valencia. His right-handed power would play well at AT&T, and he appears to be having one of those Jose Bautista-esque, late-career emergences. His season started slowly, partially due to a hamstring injury, but he launched five home runs this past weekend, including three on Sunday. Valencia is primarily a third baseman, but he plays outfield, too.
The final place for the Giants to look for offensive help is in San Diego, where the Padres have two veteran outfielders they wouldn’t hesitate to trade: Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr.
Upton, who has three 20-homer seasons and five 30-steal seasons (including three with at least 40 steals), was awful in 2013 and 2014, and mediocre in 2015. But this year he looks like the star player he was back in his Tampa Bay days. Is he to be trusted? Or is this a short-lived revival? Hard to say, but he has never been a huge run producer or great at getting on base. He is an excellent defender who offers speed and power. That’s nice, but…
…not as nice as what Kemp offers. While Kemp needs to improve his putrid .271 OBP, his nine home runs and nine doubles, accompanied by 28 RBI, show what kind of power potential he brings. And that is while hitting in a weak San Diego lineup. (Only the rebuilding Braves and Phillies are worse.)
Mix Kemp into the middle of Posey, Pence and Belt, with Span and Panik setting the table, and his bat could be quite potent. And don’t worry about the inter-division thing. The Padres acquired Kemp from the Dodgers, so they’re not opposed to trading with division rivals. The only issue would be whether the Giants trust that Kemp will continue to produce at a high level for the final three years of his contract, and whether they can stomach his contract. Because the Dodgers gave the Padres a nice chunk of change to help ease the pain of taking on Kemp’s hefty contract, the Giants might actually find that Kemp carries a palatable salary.
Next: Giants Offensive Upgrade Options, Part 2
Some other trade-target candidates will probably emerge as the season goes along and other teams fall out of contention. But for now, these are the most obvious candidates, with Braun the biggest prize, Kemp the best consolation prize and Valencia the cheapest and sneakiest option.