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SF Giants: 5 controllable MLB trade deadline targets

May 4, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton (25) jumps up and catches a fly ball in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton (25) jumps up and catches a fly ball in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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SF Giants, Richard Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez (48) pitches to Cincinnati Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez (7) during the ninth inning at PNC Park. Pittsburgh won 7-2. He could be one of the best options to help the SF Giants bullpen at the MLB trade deadline. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

5 controllable SF Giants trade targets: 3. Richard Rodriguez

Any fan clamoring for a proven closer to be higher on this list is perfectly understandable. There is no more glaring need on the Giants roster than in the bullpen. At the same time, relievers on expiring deals are usually in high supply at the trade deadline. If Zaidi is looking for a controllable long-term piece, a player at a more valuable position would likely come first on the front office’s wish list. Nevertheless, if the Giants target a high-leverage reliever for 2021 and beyond, Pittsburgh Pirates closer, Richard Rodriguez would probably top the list of available options.

While the Pirates have been one of the worst teams in MLB, Rodriguez has quietly been one of the league’s most consistent relievers. Rodriguez has struck out 204 batters across 182.1 innings pitched with a 2.86 ERA from 2018-2021. The Pirates moved the right-hander into the closer role this season, and he’s been as effective as ever. In 24.1 innings pitched, he has a career-best 1.85 ERA and 1.95 FIP.

Projected to have one of the weakest rosters in MLB, Pittsburgh has lived down to expectations. The Pirates have quickly fallen to the cellar of the NL Central and have the fourth-worst record in the league at 23-35. Rodriguez turned 31 in March but is under team control through arbitration for two seasons beyond 2021. Clearly amidst a rebuild, the Pirates will definitely entertain offers for their best reliever and could easily pull the trigger on a deal.

Zaidi has made dozens of trades since coming to San Francisco. With that said, he has yet to make a deal primarily for a reliever. The Giants have not been in an obvious position to buy over his tenure, but that could result from his approach to team building. If he is willing to pay a premium price for a reliever, Rodriguez seems like an obvious fit. With the emergence of several pitching prospects throughout the Giants system, perhaps young southpaw like Seth Corry could become an intriguing centerpiece for the rebuilding Pirates.

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