The Giants are awful. Feels like if I type that enough, the words lose all meaning, and we can stop caring so much and just yuk it up. And awful teams generally trade their pending free agents at the trade deadline. So it would follow that ...
Except! The Giants are not your typical awful team. They are sorta stunned that they're in this mess, and they most certainly do not expect to be in the same mess next year. So they're being coy when it comes to trading their players. And according to Jon Heyman, that means they're asking for the moon because they want to keep these guys around:
One reason the ask is high on both players, sources say, is that the Giants plan to make a qualifying offer to both after the year, which would bring them a coveted draft choice assuming neither player takes the offer. The qualifying offer is expected to be slightly higher than the $13.3 million it was last year.
The Royals, who don't look like sellers anymore after getting to .500, have been looking at right field, as well
If you ever feel like you're descending down the steps of self-pity ...
A short review of the qualifying offer: Teams have to offer the average of the top 125 contracts in baseball to departing free agents if they want a draft pick at the end of the first round. That offer will be around $14 million or so. The player can decline the offer, but still negotiate with the club. Or the player can accept the offer and return on a one-year deal for that top-125 amount.
The Giants are at least pretending that they're going to extend the offers, which is code for "Your prospects have to be better than a supplemental first-rounder if you want us to trade with you." This was probably the case all along for Pence, who should get something closer to the Aaron Rowand deal than a one-year, $14 million deal. But it was an open question what the Giants would do with Lincecum.
They're willing to risk Lincecum coming back for a year and $14 million. Which wouldn't be a bad idea, really. He'd have five days to accept the offer, too, so it's not like he'd come back in February and take the deal if the market fell out.
While it's always exciting to daydream about the binders of top prospects available in a trade, this is still good news. If the Giants are serious about the qualifying offers, that means they're not going to let Lincecum and Pence walk for nothing. It also means that there's a chance both will stick around, and I'm rather fond of them, even if I'm concurrently terrified of them (and their future contracts.)
The Giants might be posturing. If so ... good. Maybe that posturing will lead to a better prospect or three. Maybe Dayton Moore really, really has his heart set on Hunter Pence.
Or maybe the Giants get some draft picks. Or maybe the Giants pretend this season never happened, and keep Lincecum and Pence around. It would be a pretty risky offseason plan to bring the 2013 team back, what with them being awful and all. But in isolation, both Lincecum and Pence might make sense for the 2014 team.
Hopefully, a team panics and sets their prospect vacuum from suck to blow. But there are other alternatives, too. At least trading these guys for Darren Ford-type prospects just to save some money isn't one of them.