SF Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi met with reporters recently to discuss the team’s trade deadline approach and he indicated that starting pitching will be a primary concern. Furthermore, he added that the Giants will be cautious with anything that affects the long-term plan.
SF Giants: Farhan Zaidi outlines trade deadline strategy
Zaidi’s comment about the starting rotation is mildly surprising given how well that part of the roster has performed. They are excelling in a number of key stats relative to the rest of baseball:
- 3.18 ERA (3rd-best in MLB)
- 2.53 BB/9 (3rd-best in MLB)
- 3.55 SO/W ratio (7th-best in MLB)
- 0.91 HR/9 (2nd-best in MLB)
- 47.6% GB rate (T-2nd in MLB)
Despite these strong marks, the Giants rotation has been without one or more key members at various points this season. Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb, Alex Wood, and Aaron Sanchez have all spent time on the shelf, so it makes sense that the Giants would survey the market for starting pitching.
That said, it does not sound like the front office is too keen on blowing up the farm system to acquire starters at the deadline. This might shift the focus on the types of players the Giants will target from long-term or controllable pieces to rentals.
Rental players, or players whose contracts expire at the end of the season, typically cost less in terms of prospect capital. This might preclude the Giants from trading for Kyle Gibson (Texas Rangers), Wade Miley (Cincinnati Reds) or José Berríos (Minnesota Twins) considering that all are under contract for 2022. In the case of Miley, he has an affordable team option that is likely to be exercised.
There might not be many obvious upgrades in the rental market but pitchers like Zach Davis (Chicago Cubs), Charlie Morton (Atlanta Braves), and Danny Duffy (Kansas City Royals) could definitely bolster the Giants’ starting rotation. Of course, Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals) may also be available but he has 10-and-5 rights to reject any trade and his agent has stated that Scherzer will likely not approve any trade that does not come with a contract extension.
The bullpen seems like an area that could be upgraded and this can still happen if the Giants acquire a starter that pushes one of their incumbent options into a bulk innings role. A lot can change in the next few weeks, but the starting pitching market looks relatively barren at this point.
If the trade market does not develop, it could become a seller’s market, which would not be ideal for the Giants’ goal of balancing the present as well as the future. Nevertheless, the trade deadline strategy has been defined as the Giants look to be active buyers for the first time in several years.