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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, John Means
May 24, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher John Means (47) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. (Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports)

5 controllable SF Giants trade targets: 4. John Means

John Means has been one of the best stories of the 2021 season. An 11th round selection out of West Virginia in the 2014 draft by the Orioles, Means was never a top prospect in the organization and has gone relatively unnoticed outside of the AL East since debuting in 2018. He did receive an All-Star selection in 2019, but more because of the dearth of talent in Baltimore than anything else. Then, Means threw a no-hitter and put up ace-level numbers in the first two months of this season.

Means has issued just 13 walks in 71 innings while striking out 69 in 2021. A career-low .192 BABIP has helped him keep opponents from crossing the plate and post a 2.28 ERA. He was removed from his most recent start in the first inning and was placed on the injured list with a left shoulder strain. For obvious reasons, how quickly he returns to the field will heavily impact his market this summer.

Your opinion of Means’ future prospects will come down to which metrics you rely on to evaluate a pitcher’s performance. His traditional numbers may be in line with many of the best pitchers in the league, but more advanced statistics suggest he will regress with time. Means has a 4.17 FIP, 3.95 xFIP, and 3.64 ERA in 2021. Historically, Means has consistently outperformed his FIP and xFIP by maintaining low BABIP. With that said, a BABIP around .200 is hard to envision stabilizing.

The Orioles have team control of Means through arbitration for three seasons beyond 2021 and probably should hold onto their best pitcher. Then again, if they are skeptical of Means’ success and concerned about his health, this summer would be the time to put him on the market, assuming he is healthy in July.

It’s hard to envision the Giants getting in a bidding war for the Orioles southpaw. However, with a front office in Baltimore that has tended to value new-age analytics, they may be willing to accept a return more in line with a mid-rotation starter than ace. At that point, assuming Means is healthy, San Francisco could be willing to part with the pieces necessary to add some short and long-term rotation depth.

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