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Are the Giants making fewer offseason trades than they used to?

The Giants have come a long way since Matt Williams was dealt to the Indians.

MLB: San Francisco Giants-Press Conference John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Dipoto, GM for the Seattle Mariners, would like to see your baseball cards. He would like to talk to you about Garbage Pail Kids. He understands that you collect ceramic Disney figurines, and he would be interested in maybe working out some sort of exchange. He’s in the corner, itching, itching, itching, and he wants to swap stories. Won’t you swap stories with him? Help him put out the fire underneath his skin and trade some anecdotes, one for one, c’mon, just a couple of anecdotes.

Which is to say, the Mariners have made an awful lot of trades this offseason. The total is 12 so far, which doesn’t include the waivers, DFAs, and free agents. It’s up to 13 if you consider a three-way trade as two separate deals.

The Giants traded Chris Heston to these Mariners in December to clear some roster room. This was their first offseason trade since dealing Cody Hall to the Diamondbacks last January to clear some roster room. That was their only offseason trade before the 2016 season, and it came 13 months after the Casey McGehee trade, which was their only trade before the 2015 season.

The Mariners have as many offseason trades since October as the Giants have in every offseason combined since 2004. That’s another way to put it.

Consider that the Sabean Era started with the Matt Williams trade, a bold first step toward the reworking of a roster. Then they dealt for J.T. Snow and Mark Lewis, and it felt like offseason deals were going to be a part of the team’s DNA.

Fast forward a couple decades, and it’s Cody Halls and Chris Hestons the whole way down. Before McGehee, the last trade the Giants made at all was to send Conor Gillaspie away the first time.

So are the Giants making fewer trades? To Baseball-Reference!

Giants trades, 1997-2016

Year Offseason In-season Total number of trades
Year Offseason In-season Total number of trades
1997 5 5 10
1998 3 4 7
1999 2 3 5
2000 3 1 4
2001 1 6 7
2002 3 2 5
2003 2 5 7
2004 3 2 5
2005 0 6 6
2006 2 3 5
2007 0 4 4
2008 0 1 1
2009 2 2 4
2010 0 6 6
2011 0 3 3
2012 2 3 5
2013 1 0 1
2014 0 1 1
2015 1 3 4
2016 1 4 5

Note: “offseason” is defined as the end of the previous year’s World Series until the next Opening Day.

The Giants are making in-season trades when they need to. That isn’t in question. But the last time they made two offseason trades was before 2012 (bringing in Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan), and the last time they made three offseason trades or more was before 2004. This is not a team that builds its rosters for the coming season through trades.

Do I have an opinion on this? Yes. I like the good trades the Giants make, and I dislike the bad trades the Giants make. This is my firm belief, and it’s my opinion, which I believe. Apart from that, though, no. I don’t have a specific hankering for trades for trades’ sake, and I’m fine with the Giants using their financial resources to build out their roster. It’s possible that this has more to do with the underwhelming perception of their farm system than an organizational philosophy, but that’s a problem for another time.

It’s not just you, though. The Giants don’t make a lot of trades in the offseason, and they haven’t for a few years now. If a need arises, they won’t be shy about making July interesting. Until then, they’ll sign a few free agents and see what shakes out. That’s the new Giants way, apparently.