Just four hours away from the MLB trade deadline, every baseball reporter and fan is waiting for the first domino to fall that sets off a flurry of moves.
Perhaps, much like last offseason’s slow-moving free-agent market, we are waiting for a moment at the MLB trade deadline that simply won’t come.
Regardless, the San Francisco Giants have been in the middle of trade rumors since May. It seemed obvious that the Giants simply had to maximize their prospect return for everything they had of value as aggressive sellers at the deadline.
Then, everything changed with a red-hot month of July that has thrust them into wild-card contention. Whether you want to call Alex Dickerson the savior or credit the clubhouse culture cultivated by future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy and the team’s veterans, they’ve turned it around.
While you were reading this, the Giants probably just made a trade.
(Nervously refreshes Twitter).
Sorry, I know this isn’t the time to play with your nerves. This time of year always puts fans on edge, but what makes it even worse for Giants fans is that their path remains unclear.
It’s easy to envision the Giants turning into buyers and equally easy to see them still aggressively selling their top assets.
They’ve found a way to add even more uncertainty to a time that is defined by uncertainty.
(Nervously refreshes Twitter again.)
So how do the Giants come out ahead?
The answer is straightforward, but how to get there is complex. It’s about maximizing value. That doesn’t mean they should sell or buy, it simply means they need to find ways to improve.
If they sell a player of Madison Bumgarner’s caliber, they need to bring back legitimate prospect talent. Ideally, that prospect talent would also be close to the major leagues.
If they buy, it should be to bring in someone who makes an immediate impact.
I wish it was simpler. But, this roster is complicated. At various points in the season, they have looked like one of the five worst teams in baseball and one of the five best teams in baseball.
Put simply, this team could contend in the second half, or it could crater. There are reasons to believe both.
So what do we make of all this?
Well, it’s hard to make anything of the reports that the Giants are talking about buying or selling until deals actually get done. But, my response is simple:
First-year president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi wins the deadline by sticking to his guns. If he sets a specific asking price for Madison Bumgarner or Will Smith and the offers don’t meet that price, then they shouldn’t be traded.
Making trades just to make trades gets you headlines, but it doesn’t make you a long-term winner.
Making moves that bring back more value than you give up is what makes you a winner.
It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and yet it’s one of the hardest things to do in baseball.
(Nervously refreshes Twitter.)
Now, all we have to do is wait and see what this year’s MLB trade deadline has in store.