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The Giants are talking to the Cardinals about outfield help

Which one of the Cardinals’ 348 outfielders would the Giants be interested in?

San Francisco Giants v St. Louis Cardinals
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Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images

The Giants haven’t developed an All-Star outfielder since Chili Davis, who was drafted before the first rap album was released. The Cardinals can walk into a 7/11, grab the guy behind the counter, and turn him into someone capable of hitting 17 home runs with a .340 OBP. This seems unfair, and it’s why the baseball gods allow the Giants to beat the Cardinals in the NLCS.

It would also seem to hint that a trade between the two organizations might make sense. According to Derrick Goold, this is, indeed, a possibility.

Cardinals general manager Michael Girsch said the team intends to move some outfielders this winter and has started getting a sense of the teams that have “true interest.” Girsch declined to discuss specifics. The San Francisco Giants are in need of an outfielder, and the Cardinals have had discussions with them.

Ah, what a delightful thinking-face emoji of a passage. I can definitely get behind the mystery and intrigue here.

My guess is that the Giants wouldn’t turn to the Cardinals to fill their “catch the damned ball” need in center field. While the Cardinals are rich in outfielders, they aren’t overflowing with Gold Glove candidates in center. They used Dexter Fowler there for most of the year, for example, and he’s average, at best.

No, this trade would be for left field, most likely. There are still plenty of Cardinals who would fit there, and it’s worth running down exactly who might be on the market.

Dexter Fowler

In a hypothetical deal for Jeff Samardzija, maybe this would work. Otherwise, he’s too expensive, and it’s not like he’s unproductive. He’s got that Mark Melancon sweet spot going, where there’s no reason for his team to pay him to play somewhere else. Might as well overpay him to do good things.

Tommy Pham

In theory, this is probably who the Cardinals should trade. He’s 29, and he’s coming off a career year. No, he’s coming off Andrew McCutchen’s career year. There was no reason to think that Pham could hit .306/.411/.520 in a full season. There aren’t a lot of reasons to think he can be that good again.

But he’ll still probably be good. Cheap and good. The Cardinals aren’t trading him unless another team believes he’s clearly going to be this productive for the next several years and trades their farm system accordingly. That team would not be the Giants.

Randal Grichuk

If you loved Pedro Feliz, you’ll love Grichuk, who will have as many walks as doubles every year, and until he hits 60 doubles, that’s not a good thing. Last year, Grichuk hit .238/.285/.473 with 22 home runs, and that line says everything you need to know about him. He’ll swing a lot. He’ll connect occasionally. Sometimes the balls will go over the fence. If you get to the postseason, you shouldn’t count on him to suddenly get more patient against Kyle Hendricks, Chris Sale, or Stephen Strasburg.

He’s right-handed with power, though, and he’s also relatively young and cheap. I could see the Giants trading for him and plugging their nose while he swings for the fences, over and over again. That doesn’t mean it’s a great idea.

Stephen Piscotty

He’s a local kid, from Stanford by way of Pleasanton, and he was a big part of the Cardinals’ future as recently as last year. His power cratered last year, though, even as other players on 29 teams around the league couldn’t stop hitting more home runs. Obviously the Giants would be interested in that kind of profile.

But the OBP is still solid, and there might be a reason for the Giants to think the 20-homer bat is still there if the Cardinals are just giving him away. Note: The Cardinals are most certainly not just giving him away. They bought out his arbitration years with a really cheap contract, so he’s very cost-effective, even when he isn’t hitting dingers. He’s a well-rounded player who would make the Giants better, but the Cardinals would ask for a lot. If the Giants give up a lot for anyone, they would need more than a well-rounded player. It’s the Piscotty paradox! And it’s why this probably isn’t the guy.

Harrison Bader

Bader is 23 and a career .282/.346/.473 hitter in the minors. They’re all a career .282/.346/.473 hitter in the minors. Every single Cardinals outfielder. There aren’t even official scorers at their minor league games. They just estimate the stats, and they always turn out right.

Anyway, Bader can play center, is right-handed, and has just a little power. His major league trial didn’t go well, though, and last year was the first time he cracked the Cardinals’ top-10 prospect list, so it’s not like he’s been a top-tier talent everyone has expected would bust out. He should be a quality player, but only if he goes through the same rituals. I wrote this in 2012 ...

John Mozeliak: Here, chew this.

Cardinals prospect: What is this?

Mozeliak: Just chew it.

Prospect: Well, I'm not going to unless I know what it is.

Mozeliak: Fine, it's Stan Musial's adrenal gland.

Prospect: What? But doesn't he need that?

Stan Musial: I grew another one.

Prospect: That doesn't …


... and I wouldn’t change a word. Even though the government claims that Musial has passed away, I don’t believe it. This is just to throw you off the Cardinals’ track.

Anyway, the point is that I fully expect Bader to finish ninth in the MVP voting one year, but that the Giants wouldn’t get the same value out of him. Besides, it doesn’t sound like the Giants to go after a young, unproven player to fill a hole on their major league roster.

Tyler O’Neill

Dingers! Right-handed dingers! But this is the prospect the Cardinals got for Marco Gonzales, who was a mighty valuable trade chip for them. They probably want to make room for O’Neill, not trade him to make room.

Still, it’s not inconceivable that the Cardinals would deal him. He’ll be 23, and he hit .246/.321/.499 with 31 homers between two different PCL teams. Again, it’s hard to see the Giants give a starting gig to an unproven hacker of a rookie, but if they can’t develop power on their own, this might be an easy way to nab some. If the Cardinals think they can really get Giancarlo Stanton, the Giants could at least ask what it would take to get O’Neill. Maybe the Cardinals are smitten with a specific prospect or reliever.

Adolis Garcia

Garcia is a 24-year-old veteran of the Serie Nacional who signed with the Cardinals before last season, and he hit .290/.340/.476 between Double-A and Triple-A, just like every other outfielder in this stupid system. He’s right-handed and has power, but like the players above, the Giants aren’t likely to trade for someone like Garcia and consider the position filled. They’ll be interested more in a Pham, Grichuk, or Piscotty. They’re big on cost certainty, these Giants.

Nick Martini

Now you’re just making shit up.

No, seriously, he’s a speedy, high-contact, low-power left-handed outfielder who can play all three outfield positions, but doesn’t have a clear spot on the major league roster, and considering he’s already 27, he might be available for relatively cheap

Okay, whatever.

Anthony Garcia

Right-handed hitter. 26 before next season. Hit .282/.359/.466 between Double-A and Triple-A last year. If the Cardinals trade him, another one will grow in his place.

Jose Martinez

Here we go. The Cardinals didn’t really know what to do with him last year, even while he was often their hottest hitter. Martinez hit .309/.379/.518 in 307 plate appearances last year, doing most of his serious damage against left-handers, but holding his own against righties.

Mostly, though, he fits what the Giants need in a few ways:

  1. Good enough to start if needed
  2. Already 29 and unlikely to cost the Giants their best prospects
  3. On a team with an outfield surplus that’s willing to deal
  4. Not so good that the Giants need to stop looking for outfielders once they acquire him
  5. Can play first base when the Giants trade Brandon Belt for Jackie Bradley, Jr. to help free up money for Giancarlo Stanton

That last one is just to make sure you’re paying attention. But I think Martinez is a fine trade target for a team with bigger plans. If some of those plans come to fruition, great, you have an overqualified fourth outfielder, even if he’s a little rough defensively. If those plans don’t work, you still have someone who can take at-bats against left-handers and allow Austin Slater a little more time to develop, if needed. H

Odds of happening? Low. All of these rumors have low odds. The Cardinals might want Tyler Beede and Hunter Strickland for Martinez, and the conversations won’t last more than two seconds.

But if the Giants want an outfielder, the Cardinals have a half-dozen, and they all hit .282/.346/.473. Some of them are older, most of them are underpaid, and almost all of them are right-handed, so there has to be a trade fit somewhere, right?

Just forget the part where they lose their Cardinal Way powers the second they get on the airplane, and there’s a lot about this that makes sense.