San Francisco Giants: What would buying look like?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 31: Chris Shaw #26 of the San Francisco Giants in his major league debut hits a sacrifice fly scoring Brandon Belt #9 in the bottom of the seventh inning at AT&T Park on August 31, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 31: Chris Shaw #26 of the San Francisco Giants in his major league debut hits a sacrifice fly scoring Brandon Belt #9 in the bottom of the seventh inning at AT&T Park on August 31, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

If the San Francisco Giants decided to add rather than subtracting at the trade deadline, what would they look like as buyers?

The San Francisco Giants have won 12 of their last 14 games and are now within 2.5 games of a playoff spot.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported yesterday that the Giants still intend to sell at the trade deadline, despite their recent run of success. While president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi recently implied the team may still be mulling over their deadline approach, selling remains the best option.

That said, things can still change.

If the Giants continue to play at this level, they could easily find themselves above .500 and in playoff position in a week, which could push them in the direction of buying.

However, let’s say it’s July 30 and things are in a holding pattern. The Giants are only a handful of games back for the second wild-card spot, but they still need to leapfrog at least four teams.

Do they buy or sell?

Some believe that would be enough for the Giants to stand pat. I think it could have the opposite effect. Zaidi has shown time and again he’s never paralyzed by roster moves. In fact, I think the Giants could function as both buyers and sellers in that scenario.

With a farm system on the rise, the Giants have built up considerable depth at a few different spots. Notably, between the majors and upper levels of the minors, the Giants have an abundance of starting pitching, relief pitching and outfielders with multiple years of team control.

Take a look:

SP: Shaun Anderson, Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez, Andrew Suarez, Ty Blach, Connor Menez, and Garrett Williams
RP: Reyes Moronta, Trevor Gott, Travis Bergen, Sam Selman, Steven Okert, Williams Jerez, Sam Coonrod, Jandel Gustave, Sam Wolff, Ray Black, Melvin Adon, Sam Moll, and Tyler Cyr
OF: Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Tyler Austin, Chris Shaw, Mike Gerber, Joey Richard, Jacob Heyward, and Steven Duggar

If the Giants are going to buy, it’s unlikely the would move guys like Beede, Anderson, Moronta, Dickerson who have established themselves as key contributors. But there is plenty of reason to try to consolidate the rest of their surplus.

If the Giants went hunting for big-name, controllable big-league pieces, the prospect that makes the most sense as a headliner is Alexander Canario. He’s one of the five best prospects in the Giants system, but he’s also their third-best outfield prospect behind Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop.

The 19-year-old has a very high ceiling and he would be attractive to any organization. but what kind of player would the GIants be looking for in a high-profile trade?

The two obvious needs going forward appear to be at second base and in the starting rotation.

While the Giants have a lot of potential starting options, none project as more than a No. 3 starter and most are more back-of-the-rotation arms. At second, Joe Panik has continued to struggle and is a potential non-tender candidate at season’s end.

The problem for the Giants is that frontline starters tend to demand massive returns and the market is lacking in options.

I’m still intrigued by the New York Mets and Noah Syndergaard. The Mets front office has seemed to prioritize short-term gains over smarter long-term plays. If Syndergaard gets traded, I expect the return to be panned for valuing closeness to the majors over ceiling. Perhaps the Giants can take advantage of that with some of the aforementioned surplus talent.

Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield would also make a lot of sense. He’s on pace for another 5+ WAR season and is locked up on a team-friendly contract. However, reports suggest the Royals have placed an unreasonably high asking price on him. Outside of that, there aren’t really any clear big-ticket buying options.

A lesser upgrade could be someone like St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong. Would a swap of Coonrod and Bergen for Wong help both teams?

The more likely trades would emulate the recent Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays swap of second baseman Nick Solak and hard-throwing reliever Peter Fairbanks.

Both teams moved minor leaguers from positions of depth to improve in other areas of more pressing need. To that point, the Rays still have a huge surplus of middle-infield talent and have long lined up with the Giants as potential trade partners.

So what would buying look for the San Francisco Giants?

Anything could make sense, with the exception of rentals.

That could come in the form of blocked Triple-A players or good old-fashioned MLB talent.

None of those moves would eliminate the Giants from selling. In fact, if the Giants acquired a starter with long-term control, it might even make it easier to justify flipping Madison Bumgarner for prospects before he becomes a free agent.

The plethora of bullpen prospects close to the majors could also allow the bullpen to absorb the loss of Will Smith, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, and even Mark Melancon, without suffering a major dip in production.

Next. MLB-ready trade deadline targets (Part 2)

On August 1, the San Francisco Giants roster could look a number of different ways, and while what will happen remains a mystery, fans should be excited to see how it all shakes out.