The San Francisco Giants recent run of success has not only boosted the team’s stock, but also the stock of some of their top trade chips.
The San Francisco Giants were marked as sellers before the season even started. However, new team president Farhan Zaidi had every intention of competing in manager Bruce Bochy’s final season, and with a recent hot streak, they are doing just that.
On June 1, the Giants were 11 games under .500 and 7.5 games back with nine teams to hurdle in NL the wild-card standings. It seemed like they were just passing time until the trade deadline arrived.
Despite their record, they still held a number of appealing trade chips, including Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith who are headed for free agency at season’s end. It was only a matter of time until contending teams started calling and deals started getting done.
Then the unexpected happened.
The San Francisco Giants went on a tear, posting a 15-3 record in July to vault back into contention. They now find themselves above .500 for the first time since last season, and two games back for the second NL wild-card spot.
Yet the question still remains: Do they buy, sell, or stand pat at the trade deadline?
There are pros and cons to each option.
Buying would allow the Giants to fill some of their needs in order to make a playoff push, but it would also further deplete a farm system they have worked hard to rebuild.
Sell them would allow them to bolster their farm system and improve their long-term outlook, but it would ultimately symbolize throwing in the towel on Bochy’s final season with the team.
Standing pat might be the best move if the team believes this recent momentum is enough to achieve postseason glory. However, it presents the possibility of letting ace Madison Bumgarner and 2019 All-Star Will Smith walk for nothing in free agency.
While the recent hot streak has made it harder for the front office to decide on a deadline direction, it still benefits the team in numerous ways, especially if they decide to sell.
Teams that have been relying on upgrading their starting rotation or bullpen suddenly have fewer options to choose from if the Giants decide to hold onto their veteran pieces.
This could create the perfect situation for Farhan Zaidi and company.
When the Giants were labeled as sure-fire sellers, many teams no doubt believed that the risk of having their upcoming free agents walk for nothing would make them desperate enough to deal that they might be able to land someone like Bumgarner or Smith for below face value.
That’s definitely no longer the case.
The Giants are now on such a hot streak that they are going to need convincing to even think about shopping out any key pieces. That in itself will require a significantly larger return that other teams may have initially expected.
It’s also no coincidence that as the Giants start to play more meaningful games, guys like Bumgarner have suddenly ramped up their performance. So far in July, he has a 1.13 ERA with just two walks and 14 strikeouts in three starts.
If the Giants decide they have what it takes to compete with the NL playoff teams, they can simply hold their cards at the deadline and hope the hot streak continues.
However, don’t be surprised if a desperate contender makes them an offer too good to pass up. The front office can still make a seller trade without waiving the white flag by targeting MLB-ready talent that will bolster other areas for the stretch run.
At this point, a huge haul will be required in order to pry loose any top-tier pitching from the Giants. If someone is willing to meet that asking price, it will greatly improve the team’s long-term outlook, and not necessarily at the cost of contending in 2019.
So while the San Francisco Giants may no longer be looking to sell, an offer could come along that makes it in their best interest to pull the trigger on a trade. The recent hot streak has given them the upper hand on the trade market.