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: Potential Deals

Teams are only allowed to trade players on their active roster or assigned to their alternate sites. So, unlike a usual deadline, teams are pretty heavily limited to their top prospects or players on the cusp of reaching the bigs.

Organizations could get around this by using players to be named later (PTBNL) as placeholders for prospects that cannot be traded at the moment, but since there’s no way for teams to have data on those prospects right now without a minor league season, it’s almost impossible to envision a major deal having a PTBNL as a centerpiece.

This is where the SF Giants do have an interesting advantage. While most teams have prioritized high-level minor leaguers at the alternate site, San Francisco has a high proportion of their top hitting prospects at the site. Especially in the outfield.

While players like Yastrzemski, Slater, and Dickerson have asserted themselves as big-league players, 8 of the Giants 31 best minor-league prospects are also outfielders. That doesn’t count players like Steven Duggar or Jaylin Davis either.

Three of the system’s best outfield prospects (Heliot Ramos, Alexander Canario, and Hunter Bishop) are all at the alternate site in Sacramento. All three rank among the five best prospects in the system and have a case to be top 100 prospects in all of baseball.

Sure, if the Giants could use one of those players to acquire a controllable proven arm that would be great, but since the only notable controllable arms being shopped are in Cleveland, a team currently in contention, it’s likely they will target players ready to make a more immediate big-league impact.

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I am higher on Canario than most, but there’s no denying he’s the furthest away from the big leagues of the three. The Giants already have the makings of a strong outfield around Yaz, Slater, and Dickerson. Given the organization’s rightful belief in Ramos and Bishop, they can afford to shop the upside that Canario has for a more proven pitching prospect that may not have top of the rotation ceiling, but could soon step into the Giants rotation.

On the other hand, a rebuilding team that has a strong supply of pitching prospects in its system and/or is further away from contention may happily trade one it’s lower-upside arms for an outfielder that could one day be a mainstay in the middle of their lineup.

The Giants have reached the point in their rebuild where they’ve collected assets. Now it’s time to begin optimizing them for a competitive roster. That might mean sacrificing some prospect value that ultimately fits the organization better.

By the way, the Giants director of player development Kyle Haines has talked up Canario quite a bit recently. While there’s no reason to believe he’s being dishonest, the timing might suggest they are hoping to get other front office’s attention as well.

With that in mind, here are four potential trades that seem to fit these parameters. The following four proposals are ordered by likelihood.

The Blue Jays have developed an incredible infield around big-league heirs Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio. They also have a number of top pitching prospects in Nate Pearson, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Alek Manoah.

At the same time, only 1 of their top 15 prospects according to FanGraphs Prospects is an outfielder (and that player only played 12 games in the outfield over his college career). Canario would immediately become their best natural outfielder prospect and could project to join the Blue Jays in a couple of years. Robertson would also be an upgraded utilityman for a team currently playing Joe Panik at shortstop.

Kay was the secondary piece in the Marcus Stroman trade last year and doesn’t have huge upside, but is already pitching out of the Jays pen and projects as 3 or 4 starter. Merryweather will be 29 in a couple of months but has great stuff and plenty of team control. He has the pieces of a starter, but a long injury history will likely limit him to high-leverage relief.

Both would immediately fit on the Giants staff. Kay could very well be in their rotation by the end of 2020. Thomas Hatch could be another arm that fits, although Kay is a superior prospect.

Of these proposals, this one is by far the riskiest for the Giants and may even be the worst “value.” However, Jimenez is just a year removed from being one of the best young relievers in baseball and Faedo was showing the stuff that made him a first-round pick in 2019 as well.

The Tigers have a slew of young arms like Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, and Casey Mize. Faedo performed well at AA last season but is still a tier below those arms. If Faedo maintained his development at the alternate site, he’d be on track to be in the Giants rotation in 2021.

Detroit has a decent amount of outfield prospect depth, but Canario would easily have the second-highest upside of any of those bats behind Riley Greene (the 5th overall pick in 2019).

Doval could honestly be better than Jimenez in a year. The Giants don’t want to become the Washington Nationals, who continuously traded strong bullpen prospects that quickly became better than the “proven” arms they acquired in return. However, if the team is skeptical of Doval’s ability to contribute in the next year, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to sell him to a team with a longer road to contention.

The Royals are absolutely loaded with starting pitching talent and seem to align with the Giants system.

Bubic is already starting for the Royals and is a borderline top-100 prospect, per FanGraphs Prospects. At the same time, MLB Pipeline doesn’t even rank him among Kansas City’s top-6 prospects. With the exception of FanGraphs, most pundits consider Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, and Asa Lacy superior prospects. He’s considered a very good bet to stick as a big-league starter, but as a 4 or 5 without a huge ceiling.

Singer is the kind of pitching prospect that would probably require the Giants to go above Canario. He was considered a potential top pick heading into his junior season. He slid to the Royals with the 18th overall pick, but has already pitched his way to the bigs. He’s considered a future innings eater, but scouts are split on whether he has the stuff to be a mid-rotation arm.

While Bishop ranks behind Canario in ATF’s rankings, most other sites consider Bishop the superior prospect. Madero, acquired from the Angels this offseason, is a potential back-of-the-rotation arm as well.

All of these trades, especially the Royals proposals, depend on these organization’s internal evaluations. If the Royals are higher on Bubic or Singer there’s no way this happens. However, if they are a bit more skeptical of their ability to become more than 4 starters, getting a high-upside bat, like Bishop or Canario, would be appealing.

The same can be said of the Giants. If they are lower on Canario, Ramos, or Bishop than the rest of baseball, this becomes an opportune time to target a pitching prospect that could make a more immediate impact.

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If the SF Giants are going to make a big move at the MLB trade deadline, don’t expect it to follow the traditional categories of buyer and seller. They’ll probably continue working on the peripheries of their roster with some minor swaps. But if they go big, don’t be surprised if prospects are heading to both teams.