SF Giants Trade Deadline Primer: Will They Buy, Sell, or Get Creative?

By Marc Delucchi
Johnny Cueto of the SF Giants. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Johnny Cueto of the SF Giants. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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SF Giants Trade Deadline Primer: Selling

Yes, the SF Giants are in a similar place in the standings as 2019 when they ultimately sold from peripheral parts of the roster. However, the franchise is at a different progression in its rebuild.

A number of things have changed in the past year. Logan Webb has asserted himself in the Giants rotation, Mike Yastrzemski is emerging as a star, and Joey Bart just received the big-league call. If it weren’t for Trevor Gott’s three blown saves against the Angels and Athletics, the Giants would actually be over .500.

It’s impossible to know how the lack of minor-league season will ultimately impact the timeline of guys like Heliot Ramos and Sean Hjelle, but both of them weren’t too far behind Bart last season. In fact, barring injury, they probably remain on track to join him in the majors at some point in 2021.

Even before the team gets to its much-improved farm system, the organization has another year of control over the bulk of the team’s active roster next season. Below is a list of players (by position) on the Giants who they have team control over next season. In parenthesis after the list is the best prospect in their system at the position.

C: Buster Posey, Joey Bart, Chadwick Tromp (Patrick Bailey)
1B: Brandon Belt (Logan Wyatt)
2B: Donovan Solano (Will Wilson)
SS: Brandon Crawford (Marco Luciano)
3B: Evan Longoria (Luis Toribio)
Utility: Wilmer Flores, Mauricio Dubon, Daniel Robertson
OF: Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Alex Dickerson, Steven Duggar, Jaylin Davis (Heliot Ramos)

SP: Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb, Tyler Anderson (Seth Corry)
LR: Caleb Baragar, Shaun Anderson, Andrew Suarez, Rico Garcia (Jake Wong)
RP: Jarlin Garcia, Trevor Gott, Reyes Moronta, Sam Selman, Sam Coonrod, Tyler Rogers, Wandy Peralta (Camilo Doval)

The “back-log” at catcher when Posey returns will be heavily alleviated by the expected standardization of the designated hitter in the National League. Furthermore, both Posey and Bart should be able to spell Belt at first base against left-handed pitching. Otherwise, the entire core of the Giants strong offensive production in 2020 should be back with the team.

There’s no denying the bullpen’s struggles this season, but the Giants are in a position to test all of their arms to see who can contribute going forward. While it will come with quite a bit of growing pains, the semblance of a solid bullpen is probably there.

Which leaves us with the starting rotation. Kevin Gausman is probably the best starting pitcher rumored to be on the trade market. He’s also set for free agency at the end of the year. However, what piece would the Giants get in return that would make it worth it?

Between their farm system and big-league roster, there really isn’t an obvious hole in the lineup and the odds of any acquisition outranking the current top prospect at the position is unlikely.

Sure the bullpen could use work, but it would be somewhat underwhelming to trade someone pitching like a top-of-rotation arm for a potential high-leverage reliever. Furthermore, what would be the dream scenario for any starter the Giants got in return? It would probably look a lot like Gausman.

The market will be even quieter for Johnny Cueto, who’s been less effective than Gausman, is older, and far more expensive.

Given the league’s uncertain immediate financial future with the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on revenue and impending Collective Bargaining negotiations, this offseason’s free agency is expected to be an especially barren wasteland for players. It’s hard to believe the Giants couldn’t work out an extension with Gausman and have him lead a rotation with Cueto, Webb, and Anderson.

That’s the dilemma for the Giants. Barring some exceptional offer, there is frankly very little incentive for the team to sell.

Does that make buying the way to go?