The SF Giants have already been active on the starting pitching market in free agency. However, if they decide to pivot to the trade market, who makes the most sense?
Ranking the 3 frontline starters the SF Giants should target on the trade market
It is an interesting balance between targeting players in free agency compared to the trade market. In free agency, the only cost is typically financial. If a player had rejected a qualifying offer, then the team that signs him would lose a draft pick as well.
However, when you are signing a player in free agency, you are paying them for what they have done. In many cases, age regression has already begun when a player reaches free agency, but the track record is a tough factor to ignore. Nevertheless, if a team signs a high-profile player, that player and his contract is with the team for many years to come for better or worse.
The trade market is a bit different. Typically, the most appealing players are those with multiple years of team control remaining. Team control is a buzzword in baseball because it can mean that the team can retain a player at a below-market cost. For example, Tim Lincecum had a $650,000 salary in 2009 when he won his second Cy Young award.
Team control comes at a cost in terms of prospect capital. Teams will have usually have to give up considerable prospect capital for premium talent. So, the three names mentioned would require the Giants to be in an unusual position of trading away prospects.
1. Tampa Bay Rays starter Tyler Glasnow
The Tampa Bay Rays might be more motivated to move Tyler Glasnow than any of the other names mentioned, so a trade partner might have some leverage. First, Glasnow is slated to earn $25 million in 2024, which is a hefty price for a small-market team like the Rays. That is a price a team like the Giants can stomach.
Plus, Glasnow will become a free agent after next season. If he has a year like he did in 2023, it is hard to imagine Tampa Bay re-signing him to an extension. They are a smart team and know this, so they typically trade a player before they reach free agency. The rest of baseball knows this as well. There is a very good chance that the right-handed pitcher is throwing for a different team in 2025.
Glasnow is coming off of his best season in years, especially after missing parts of this year and last year due to Tommy John surgery. The Giants have a low tolerance for risk in just about every area of roster building except for injury risk.
The 30-year-old was excellent in 2023 as he posted a 3.53 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, and a 4.38 SO/W ratio. This includes a solid 51.2 percent groundball rate. The Giants like pitchers who throw effectively in the strike zone and keep the ball on the ground. Glasnow excels at both, making him an obvious fit for the rotation.