The hot stove is beginning to heat up less than a week before the trade deadline. The SF Giants appear to be in pursuit of middle infielder help and two names have entered the chat - Nicky Lopez
of the Kansas City Royals and Paul DeJong of the St. Louis Cardinals.
SF Giants connected to 2 veteran infielders ahead of trade deadline
Mark Feinsand of MLB.Com reports that the Giants have checked in on both Lopez and DeJong, per sources. Feinsand also lists two other middle infielders in Tommy Edman and Branden Donovan of the Cardinals who are drawing interest from multiple clubs.
Though, he does not explicitly say it, the Giants are a match for both Edman and Donovan as well. The Cardinals will be an interesting team to watch in the next few days as they sit in fourth place in the NL Central with a 46-58 record.
They plan to sell, but it will not be a complete fire sale. St. Louis is treating this as a gap year, so the most likely players to be traded will be those on expiring deals. DeJong, Edman, and Donovan all have multiple years of control. In a sense, there is no motivation to trade any of the three if the return is not right.
I would guess that both Donovan and Edman are unlikely to be moved given that they have more of a recent track record of production in comparison to Dejong. So, if the Cardinals plan to compete in 2024, they likely see both Edman and Donovan as contributing players.
On the other hand, DeJong could be moved. I should preface this by saying that none of the likely available middle infielders are obvious upgrades. However, they might be marginal improvements one way or the other.
DeJong is in the midst of a nice 2023 campaign. He is slashing .237/.303/.422 (100 wRC+) with 13 home runs, 32 RBI, and 38 runs in 297 plate appearances. This includes a 7.1 percent walk rate against a 29.0 percent strikeout rate.
The right-handed bat offers some occassional power, but that is where his offensive value ends. However, Giants shortstops have posted a 34 wRC+ since the start of June, so the addition of DeJong would be a huge improvement for the lineup.
In addition to this, the 29-year-old is a slick-fielding shortstop, but with little experience elsewhere. It is clear how he could help the Giants.
Nicky Lopez is similar to DeJong in that he has a reputation for a good glove. However, Lopez has experience at multiple infield positions, so he offers more versatility in comparison to DeJong.
The switch-hitter does offer much in the way of offense. Lopez has posted a .213/.322/.284 line (73 wRC+) with zero home runs, 13 RBI, and 17 runs in 183 plate appearances. He is considered an excellent baserunner and has tallied a solid 10.9 percent walk rate in 2023.
Giants shortstops have posted a .271 on-base percentage this year, so there is a massive need for improvement. Lopez's .322 on-base rate is a respectable mark, but does that compensate for the total lack of power?
Again, this goes back to marginal improvement. Both Lopez and DeJong offer a solid glove at shortstop. The Giants' defense has been fine in that regard.
The offense is where they need improvement. Lopez's on-base skills could help, and so could DeJong's power. That Giants will spend the next few days looking for other options or deciding whether these marginal improvements would be enough.