San Francisco Giants: 2011 MLB trade deadline review
By Joel Reuter
In the days leading up to this year’s MLB trade deadline, we’ll take a look back at San Francisco Giants deadlines past. Next up, the 2011 trade deadline.
Fresh off an unexpected World Series title in 2010, the San Francisco Giants were expected to be serious contenders once again during the 2011 season with largely the same core of players.
They had a 46-36 record heading into the month of July, which gave them a two-game cushion over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings.
They entered July as aggressive buyers and wound up landing the biggest rental bat on the market.
Here’s a look at their July activity:
July 19, 2011: IF Jeff Keppinger acquired from Houston Astros for RHP Henry Sosa, RHP Jason Stoffel
With Freddy Sanchez sidelined and fill-ins like Emmanuel Burriss, Bill Hall and Mike Fontenot failing to produce, the Giants acquired veteran Jeff Keppinger to serve as the team’s starting second baseman for the stretch run.
The 31-year-old was hitting .307/.320/.436 with 13 extra-base hits in 170 plate appearances with the Houston Astros at the time of the trade, and he had a strong track record prior to that as an oft-used utility infielder.
His production dipped in an expanded role with the Giants, though, and he hit just .255/.285/.333 for a 76 OPS+ and -0.7 WAR following the trade. He was just a rental and departed in free agency during the offseason.
Henry Sosa made his MLB debut with the Astros less than a month after the trade and posted a 5.23 ERA in 10 starts down the stretch. That wound up being his only MLB action.
Jason Stoffel never reached the majors, topping out at Triple-A.
July 28, 2011: OF Carlos Beltran acquired from New York Mets for RHP Zack Wheeler
The Giants had built their division lead up to four games when they pulled the trigger on one of the biggest trades in recent franchise history.
Carlos Beltran was a well-established superstar at the time of the deal and he did his part during the stretch run, hitting .323/.369/.551 with 20 extra-base hits in 179 plate appearances following the trade.
A lack of production from 2010 scrapheap find Pat Burrell and up-and-comer Nate Schierholtz had created a glaring need in right field and in the middle of the batting order, and Beltran filled it perfectly.
If the Giants had gone on to win the World Series and Beltran had made a significant impact, this might be viewed as one of the best trades in team history.
Instead, they missed the postseason entirely and paid a steep price in the process.
Zack Wheeler had been the No. 6 overall pick in the 2009 draft and heading into the 2011 season he was ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the San Francisco system and the No. 55 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America.
Beltran signed with the St. Louis Cardinals during the offseason, while Wheeler has developed into a standout MLB starter, despite missing some time to injury.
July 30: IF Orlando Cabrera acquired from Cleveland Indians for OF Thomas Neal
Looking for more experience up the middle, the Giants optioned rookie Brandon Crawford to Triple-A and acquired Orlando Cabrera to serve as the primary shortstop down the stretch.
The 36-year-old had very little left in the tank, though, and he hit just .222/.241/.270 for a 46 OPS+ in 133 plate appearances with the Giants. That ended up being the last MLB action of his career.
He didn’t exactly come cheap, either. Outfielder Thomas Neal checked in as the No. 7 prospect in the Giants system at the beginning of 2011, per Baseball America. However, he ended up playing just 15 games at the MLB level.
The all-in move to acquire Carlos Beltran made perfect sense for a San Francisco Giants team that was fresh off a World Series title and clinging to a narrow division lead, and he did his part.
Unfortunately, a 6-13 stretch of games to begin the month of August turned a two-game lead into a 2.5-game deficit in the NL West and they were never able to recover.
They ended up finishing 86-76, a full eight games back in the division and four games out in the wild-card standings.
Check back here in the days and weeks to come for more San Francisco Giants trade deadline reviews, all culminating in what promises to be a busy 2019 deadline.