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First things first...

The Giants aren't going to trade to improve this team. Oh, they'll try. They'll run around the lunchroom at the Winter Meetings, waving a peanut-butter-and-salami sandwich, hoping someone will offer up a pudding cup or three. The Giants have unwanted players like any other team, but they can also clear out the cafeteria with a player like Edgardo Alfonzo. It's hard to nail down the exact metaphor for Alfonzo's trade value in grade school lunch food terms. Raw cauliflower? A bowl full of feathers?

Addition by subtraction isn't the first thing on the Giants agenda. Going up and down the organization it becomes apparent that if the Giants want to substantially improve the team through trade, they'll have to do one of two things:

  1. Trade Matt Cain.
  2. Take on a bad contract.
They aren't trading Cain. They aren't going to take a bloated contract on. The Giants are going to have to overwhelm a team with b-listers in order to get anything of value. Other than Cain, and other than taking on a guy like Cristian Guzman or Eric Milton to get low-cost talent, what can the Giants possibly offer? Only a mish-mash of prospects, much more interesting as a group of raffle tickets than as players to single out in a trade. The Giants have a collection of solid prospects like Nate Schierholtz, Eddy Martinez-Esteve, Marcus Sanders, and Travis Ishikawa. As a group, you can ignore their faults to focus on the larger picture that one or two could help the Giants at the major league level. Single them out, though, and they aren't worth nearly as much to another team.

Trading for pitching doesn't make much sense as long as there are any capable free agents. It's easy to be underwhelmed by names like Kevin Millwood, Steve Tracshel, and Jarrod Washburn. But the names on the free agent market probably approximate the talent on the trade market, and aren't going to rob the farm system of depth.

First base is another story. After Paul Konerko, who isn't exactly a perfect fit, there really isn't a first baseman who offers much more than Lance Niekro/generic left-handed bat on the free agent market. And that's a bit frightening. So it's going to have to be a trade, or Konerko.

To recap, the Giants don't have much to offer in trade, but most likely will need to trade for a first baseman. That might be a problem. Players rumored to be on the market are Aubrey Huff and Lyle Overbay. Are there any I'm missing? Throw out some names, and we'll scrutinize them each starting tomorrow.