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What do the Giants do now at the trade deadline?

There's no Johnny Cueto. No Cole Hamels. No David Price. There are other options, though.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to get excited about the Giants' options to improve their rotation at the trade deadline, you have to believe a very specific thing. It's not hard to believe. It might even make a little sense. That thing is this:

Every ballpark that isn't AT&T Park is death on pitchers. Every pitcher would be rejuvenated in AT&T Park. Mid-rotation starters would look much better here. An ace is just a ballpark away!

This probably isn't true, but ... well, it does allow for a few options. Here's what's left now that we know that Hisashi Iwakuma and Jeff Samardzija are staying put and that Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, and David Price have all been spoken for.

Yovani Gallardo

Pros: Better than Tim Hudson. Would appreciate a move to a larger ballpark. Can really, really hit.

Cons: Not that good. Career ERA+ of 110, which is fine, grand, pretty nice. Not a certifiable #2 behind Bumgarner, though.

Mike Leake

Pros: Better than Tim Hudson. Would appreciate a move to a larger ballpark. Can really, really hit.

Cons: Not that good. Career ERA+ of 100, which is less fine, sorta grand, kinda nice. Not a certifiable #2 behind Bumgarner, though.

James Shields

Pros: Better than Tim Hudson. Long history of success as a major league pitcher. At his best, has most definitely been a solid #2-type pitcher.

Cons: Expensive. So expensive, in fact, that he might clear waivers and be available in August. His season has been confusing and erratic.

Tyson Ross

Pros: Better than Tim Hudson. An All-Star last year, and probably better than his stats this year because of the ghastly Padres defense. Is a buddy of Brandon Crawford's and seems mighty nice.

Cons: Would cost as much in prospects as Hamels did. Tons of team excited to get him that could push the Giants out of the way. Has a super-funky delivery that confuses and angers me.

Andrew Cashner

Pros: Better than Tim Hudson. An electric arm and history of success when he's healthy. Has the talent to be a #2 this year and next.

Cons: Was hurt when I forcibly stuffed him into this article. Sorry. Would take more than a few prospects. Unreliable, at least when it comes to his health.

Dan Haren

Pros: Better than Tim Hudson. Maybe. Dunno, that's close to a toss-up, really.

Cons: Might actually be worse than Hudson. FIP thinks so. So do the last few seasons. This seems like a bad idea, and he probably hasn't even been sprayed for Marlins Death Fog yet.

Nate Karns

Pros: Could be an ace, even though you just made him up.

Cons: You just made him up.

Nate Karns


Pros: Having an excellent rookie year for the Rays, as if he's their version of Chris Heston. Wasn't expected to crack the rotation, but a need arose, and they're running with it. Has five (!) years of team control left. Had gaudy strikeout numbers in the minors, and his control improved in the majors.

Cons: Those five years of team control would mean he's hella pricey. We're talking a Beede/Susac package, and that might be just to start. There's no reason the Rays would trade him unless it would be silly to turn down a lucrative deal. In exchange for that lucrative deal, the Giants would still be getting a pitcher of unknown quality. Also, all that stuff up there about ballparks doesn't apply. He's basically pitched in the covered version of AT&T Park.

Julio Teheran

Pros: Young. Good enough to emerge as a co-ace, and was the leader of the Braves' staff and an All-Star just a year ago.

Cons: He wouldn't be cheap, and the Giants would have to be convinced they can fix what the Braves cannot. Making $28 million over the next four seasons, which is dandy if he's good, a drag if this is the real version. It would take a lot of prospects, and the potential return might not even show up for 2015.

Karns would be creative ... almost too creative for the Giants. But I'll rank them like this:

  1. Gallardo
  2. Leake
  3. Karns
  4. Ross
  5. this is the do-not-want-unless-cheap line
  6. Cashner
  7. Teheran
  8. Shields
  9. Haren

Warming to Gallardo, mostly, though the upgrade from Hudson to Leake is real and worth pursuing. Karns and Ross are tentatively above the do-not-want line, but that's assuming the only player off the 25-man roster available would be Andrew Susac, not any of the infielders or Chris Heston.

This is ... not as sexy as we were promised.  But there's still a chance the Giants can improve. The ace-or-best strategy was the best one, and the Giants kicked those tires, alright. Now it's time to get pragmatic.