This is the trade rumor Giants fans deserve, but not the one we need right now. According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Giants are shopping Chris Heston. While it’s likely to be a move that clears 40-man roster space, it ... no, that’s just about it. This will not be the centerpiece of a huge deal. Don’t let your imagination get too wild.
Still, it’s worth thinking about this trade from another team’s perspective. Heston had an amazing first half in 2015, and he was a true revelation. It wasn’t just that he threw a no-hitter, but that he was commanding a nasty funk-sinker of doom. Watch the highlights of that game again. Even with the wide strike zone helping him along, you can see how the movement of the sinker was befuddling the Mets.
And if you’re the GM of another team, looking for a buy-low pitcher who will make the major league minimum for the next two seasons and be effective-ish at the back of the rotation, Heston makes sense. He doesn’t have so much upside that the Giants are committed to holding on to him, but he has enough upside that a rebuilding team would be interested in him.
Let’s say another team wanted Kyle Crick, but they didn’t want to give up a lot. The GM would call Bobby Evans and say, “We like this Crick kid. How about we give you a 27-year-old outfielder in Double-A for him?” The Giants would hang up and block the number. Even though Crick has had a rough couple years as a prospect, his arm still has enough upside to work with. They wouldn’t want to just give him away.
Heston, though, has an upside that’s tempered. Sure, it’s possible that he’ll become prime Doug Fister one day, but the Giants aren’t going to build their 40-man roster around that remote possibility forever. That means a team that believes in Heston can swoop in with a reasonable trade offer and get a potential fifth starter in a wretched market for competent pitchers.
To put it another way, the Marlins just signed Jeff Locke for one year, $3 million. A team like the Brewers could do that, sure. Or they could trade a half-interesting piece to the Giants and get someone just as likely to succeed, but who’s younger, will make a sixth of that price, and be under team control for a few years in the event he’s more effective than expected.
Long rumornalysis short: Don’t roll your eyes at this rumor just because of Heston’s lost 2016. He would still make sense for a lot of rebuilding teams. Just not the contending ones. And not the one with Ty Blach and Matt Cain in a fifth-starter deathmatch, Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton in a glass case, and Tyler Beede coming up from behind. A deal would probably be good for Heston’s career, and it could be good for his new team.
Just what the Giants would get back? I have no idea, but it wouldn’t be terribly exciting. It’s certainly possible, if not probable, that the player would fit the needs of the organization more than Heston does, though.
This has been your post-Melancon Winter Meetings update. It’s ... well, it’s not the rumor you were expecting. But if you’re desperate enough for sweet rumor nectar, it’ll still make you think.