clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The real problem with the Giants trading for a left fielder

It's not that they can't. It's just that there aren't enough teams with an outfielder to spare.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants haven't traded a lot in recent offseasons. There was the Casey McGehee blockbuster, sure, but the last offseason trade before that was Conor Gillaspie for Jeff Soptic. That's it since 2011, when the Giants dealt for Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera in separate deals. They'll make deadline deals, of course, but the last four offseasons haven't been about trades.

It's not a bad thing the Giants aren't being hasty with the trades. They still have Matt Duffy and Joe Panik, after all, both of whom certainly came up in trade talks over the last 24 to 36 months. And this isn't to suggest that the Giants have a philosophical reason not to make an offseason trade. It's just a matter of opportunity. If the right deal comes along, the Giants would pounce. Over the last few years, the right deal hasn't come along.

This year, it's going to be really, really hard for the right deal to come along, and there's a simple reason why: There's too much parity in baseball. All these dumb teams, thinking they have a shot. Because they probably do. And it's fouling up the Giants' chances of rescuing a good outfielder from a bad team.

Based on how teams have acted this offseason, I'm counting 24 teams that think they have a shot to make the postseason. That leaves the following six teams who have apparently given up:

  • Brewers
  • Reds
  • Phillies
  • Braves
  • Rockies
  • Padres

The Padres said they were going for it, but then they traded Craig Kimbrel and Yonder Alonso. They still might be going for it, but it's a sleepy kind of going for it. And I guess the Rockies aren't not going for it, they're just the Rockies.

The other four teams have absolutely given up, and rightfully so.

What's the big deal? Well, that means there are just 18 starting outfielders to pilfer, and most of them are questionable starters, which is at least part of the reason those teams are bad in the first place.

Here's a ranking of those 18 outfielders. See which ones you actually want the Giants to acquire on purpose.

18. Matt Kemp
He is actively bad. He fields like a sentient vending machine with an Almond Joy stuck in one of the coils. The Padres owe him $18.25 million over the next four years, and even if they paid $17 million of that, I still wouldn't want the Giants to get him.

17. Aaron Altherr
He is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, and I refuse to believe he exists.

16. Scott Schebler
"Yes, this is the missing piece to the 2016 Giants, give me the phone." -- Bobby Evans, probably

15. Melvin Upton, Jr.
You know, he wasn't that bad last year. Solid defensively with a little offensive support, especially considering Petco. As a right-handed complement to Gregor Blanco, I'd consider him if the Padres ate $26 million of the $31.9 million left on his contract and asked for a Merkin Valdez jersey in return

There's no reason for them to do that, though. They're better taking the risk that he has a renaissance season, which would allow them to make a much more favorable trade.

14. Cody Asche
Exactly the kind of tweener left-handed power that AT&T swallows whole, and he's a hacker and an unnatural outfielder, to boot.

13. Nick Markakis
He's fine enough, but he's also owed $33 million for the next three years, and he'll be 32 next year. If you're interested in above-average OBPs, zero power, and wonky defense, just keep Aoki.

Or, to put it another way, Aoki outhomered Markakis last year. Jarrett Parker hit as many home runs in one game as Markakis did all of last season.

12. Odubel Herrera
11. Domingo Santana
Lumped together because it would take a ton to get either of them from a rebuilding team. I like them both, especially Herrera as an eventual Pagan replacement. But I'd rather stick with Blanco/Williamson/Blanks than trade Susac/Arroyo/et cetera for a player with a surprisingly good rookie season.

10. Jay Bruce
Expensive and really, really bad over the last two years. I don't know what happened to him, but I wouldn't want to figure it out over a full season at AT&T Park.

9. Michael Bourn
The first free agent disaster of the post-WAR world. I'd like him a lot more if he were right-handed.

8. Jon Jay
Not a true centerfielder, but I would enjoy him as a bounceback candidate in left. Like Bourn, I just wish he weren't left handed. Doesn't pair well with Blanco

7. Khris Davis
Dingers. Can't field so well. But dingers. I would be in favor of a low-cost deal, but the Brewers probably wouldn't.

6. Billy Hamilton
He's this low because it would cost a lot for the Reds to give up on him, yet the cost certainty wouldn't be nearly enough for the Giants to trade that much. He might be a really, really, really bad hitter, even if he's a brilliant defender and baserunner.

It would be fun, though.

5. Corey Dickerson
He's young enough (26) to make the Rockies ask for the moon and stars and forgiveness for Dinger. But the defensive stats don't like him, and he sure swings and misses a lot more than he walks. He's interesting, but not for half the Giants' farm.

4. Charlie Blackmon
A less extreme version of the Dickerson conundrum. The Rockies don't have to trade him, so they would have all the leverage, and he probably isn't as good as the raw Coors stats would make you think.

He'd make a good Giant, but not for the price he'd command. And why are all these goofballs left-handed?

3. Ryan Braun
/takes drag from comically long cigarette-holder

Because he's still good and I like trolling, stupid.

But he's also owed nearly $100 million until he's 36, so unless the Brewers absorb a lot of contract, no thanks. If they're willing to buy down the cost, though, ha ha ha, this would be delightful chaos.

2. Ender Inciarte
Why would the Braves give him up? Because the other team is overpaying, just like they did with Shelby Miller in the first place. I get it, but I'd still want Inciarte as a long-term solution in center, where the Giants are incapable of developing their own talent.

Mind you, he came out of nowhere, and his offensive value is tied to his batting average, a profile that doesn't have to be sustainable.

1. Carlos Gonzalez
I know his home/road splits are ghastly, but Coors has futzed up home/road splits for everyone. It's not just that it's fun to hit in Denver, it's that the lack of thin air on the road messes with hitters.

Ellis Burks is the name of a baseball player, and I'm using that name in this sentence without any direct implications.

Really, he's the right mix of attainable, able to produce at a high level, and relatively affordable in terms of prospects. Other than maybe Bruce, Bourn, and Davis, he's also the only outfielder I could fathom the Giants acquiring.

So there you have it. Maybe there's an out-of-the-box trade we're not thinking about (Jorge Soler for Hunter Strickland and prospects!), but if you're looking to deal with a bad team, look at those unappealing options for left field.

There need to be more abysmal teams. This is hurting our ability to have fun with the hot stove.