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San Francisco Giants: Building a trade with the Chicago Cubs

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 07: Tony Watson #56 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the seventh inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 7, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 07: Tony Watson #56 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the seventh inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 7, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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San Francisco Giants Trade Proposal #1

To Cubs: LHP Will Smith
To Giants: RHP Brandon Morrow, LHP Brailyn Marquez, LHP Justin Steele, 3B Christopher Morel

If you haven’t been following the San Francisco Giants over the past couple of seasons, you probably have no idea how good Will Smith has been.  After missing the 2017 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, he has been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball.

This season, he is a perfect 16-for-16 on save opportunities and the peripherals back up his dominance. In 26.2 innings, Smith has struck out 38 while allowing only six walks and two home runs. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP all hover in the high-1.00s to low-2.00s.

Pairing Smith with Kimbrel would turn the Cubs’ biggest weakness into a strength. It would also create a trickle-down effect throughout the relief corps, making the entire bullpen better top-to-bottom.

Smith is set for free agency at season’s end and is only receiving a minimal $4.225 million salary this year. The Cubs should be able to fit that into their budget, but the Giants could also lend a hand in that department.

Brandon Morrow hasn’t pitched since mid-2018 and has only recently begun throwing from flat ground again. Sending Morrow to San Francisco in the deal would take his $9 million salary off of the books and actually make the trade a cash gain for the Cubs.

The Cubs would be giving up on the chance that Morrow returns to his old form, but at 34 years old and without a current timetable for a return, that’s far from a sure thing. On the Giants side, if Morrow does rebound, they could accept his $12 million team option for next year and look to move him during the offseason. Otherwise, they can just cut and run.

The Giants goal in trading Smith is to bring back quality prospects, and taking on Morrow’s salary could help boost the prospect haul.

Smith was already on track to be one of the most desired bullpen arms of the summer, and now that Toronto Blue Jays closer Ken Giles has gone on the injured list with elbow inflammation, the market will only be more competitive.

In order for the two sides to match up, the Giants will have to be high on the Cubs pitching prospects.

Brailyn Marquez is a raw 20-year-old lefty whose fastball already reaches 99 mph. At Single-A, Marquez has struggled with control (27 BB in 41 IP), but the strikeouts (52) show his upside. He would immediately become the best pitching prospect in the Giants system.

Justin Steele is another lefty, but one with a more standard prospect profile. Less than two years removed from Tommy John surgery, his early season struggles could be cause for concern. He has a 6.40 ERA at Double-A, but the peripherals suggest he’s been a victim of bad luck. He has an absurdly high .407 BABIP and he has struck out over a batter an inning.

The 23-year old profiles at the back of a rotation where he can work off his low-90s fastball and curveball, which flashes as a plus-pitch. His changeup will need to be refined, but he’s taken significant strides with it already.

Christopher Morel is a teenager who has already reached full-season ball. His raw power will have to carry him since his hit tool needs significant development. A plus-arm makes him a candidate for third base or right field, but he doesn’t have the most athletic frame.

Marquez and Steele would give the Giants a pair of pitching prospects with complementing floor/ceiling profiles, while Morrow and Morel would give them a couple of lottery tickets.

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