(SF Giants Brain Trust)
With the worst record in major league baseball since May 13th, it doesn't hurt to explore a seller's trade strategy before the end of the month. After all, if the Giants can't realistically contend for another championship this year, they may as well start the rebuilding process for next year. Below are the guys most likely to be sold along with a few prospects the Giants ought to trade for:
TOP TRADE VALUE:
HUNTER PENCE: Without a contract extension, Pence will hit the open market after this season, and he's indicated that the Giants have not approached him with any contract offer to date. He also indicated he'd like to stay in San Francisco, but even though he's put up the best numbers for the Giants' diminished outfield this year, his .247/.300/.425/ .725 stat line with the Giants is clearly below his career average of .283/.336/.472/.808. So I pose the following question: Is Pence worth the $13.8 million he's making this year? Is he worth a long-term deal at or near that price? Can the Giants do better? I say trade Pence for pitching prospects and then make a run at Jacoby Ellsbury and/or Shin-Soo Choo this off season to fill those gaping holes in the outfield.
JAVIER LOPEZ: The veteran lefty has been pitching well in relief for the Giants this year, and he's only due $4.2 million on his final year with the team this season. Keep in mind he's 35 years old, so if the Giants are intent on rebuilding around younger pitchers and prospects, it makes sense to move Lopez now before he walks off on the open market.
DIMINISHED TRADE VALUE:
TIM LINCECUM: Lincecum's contract expires after this season, but moving him and a big chunk of the $22 million salary remaining is a tough sell considering his ugly ERA (4.61) and high WHIP (1.4). Unless the Giants are willing to eat a big chunk of that salary and market him as a long-reliever, it's unlikely they'll move Timmeh before the trade deadline. In any case, Timmeh's probably already booked a one-way plane ticket to Seattle after this year.
PABLO SANDOVAL: The Panda's trade value peaked after the World Series last year and plummeted after he hit the DL this year. Since he came back from his foot injury, he's been abysmal at the plate and is on track for the worst year of his career with a .259/.308/.385/.690 stat line. The Giants wouldn't get much in return for him now, but if he can get himself into shape during off season and get off to a hot start next year, his trade value would certainly rebound. He's due $8.2 million in 2014 which is the final year of his contract with the club, but you have to ask: does it make sense to sign an injury-prone, inconsistent, overweight, third-basemen to a long-term deal?
Now below are a couple of prospects that could seriously help this team rebuild its starting rotation which used to be the crown jewel of the National League...
IDEAL TRADE PROSPECTS:
Henry Owens: As a high A prospect for the Boston Red Sox, Owens has posted a 3.14 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 86 innings this year. The 6'6 prospect is ranked in the top 10 for lefties but is a ways from being called up to the majors. If I were Brian Sabean, I'd be on the phone with the AL East leading Red Sox to see if they need any bullpen depth (Lopez) and help in the outfield (Pence) to bulk up for their pennant race this year.
Jameson Taillon: This double A prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates has posted a 2.94 ERA and 1.3 WHIP over 95 innings this year. MLB ranks him as a top 10 righty but like the Red Sox, the Pirates are a ways away from calling him up to the big leagues. Only a game out from the NL Central lead, the Pirates want to avoid a collapse like last year's and make a serious run at the pennant this year. What better way to do that than by shoring up their outfield and bullpen by taking on Pence and Lopez? All we Giants fans ask for is some minor league pitching in return.