Back in 2009, the Giants acquired Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez for Scott Barnes and Tim Alderson, respectively, when it looked like they had a chance to make the playoffs. They had an impressive, dominant starting rotation that could have potentially carried them through a playoff series, but the lineup felt like it had been made up of guys who were just playing baseball until their regular sport’s season officially began.
Brian Sabean’s get rich quick scheme involved going after a guy whose presence mucked up the roster construction and a guy who was on the Pirates, who still didn’t know what they were doing. Ryan Garko lost the battle of the DH/1B role to Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez while Sanchez was at the end of a deal and unlikely to re-sign with the Pirates.
The Giants gave up one of their better prospects in Tim Alderson to get Sanchez and in true Sabean fashion, that prospect did not ultimately pan out for the Pirates, but Freddy Sanchez went on to help the Giants win the World Series the following season.
The 2009 team needed power and while Garko didn’t come across as a 30 home run guy, he did have a 120 OPS+ at the time of the trade, and Sanchez was a plus defender in the middle infield who could hit doubles from time to time (and 4 times in one game as you’ll recall) and was having a solid contract year (with a 105 OPS+). All this to say: are there any Garkos or Sanchii the Giants might be able to grab to maybe improve the offense?
Garko and Sanchez were terrible when they came over to the Giants and that team didn’t wind up making the postseason, but the circumstances are somewhat similar here in that the Giants have very little wiggle room and talent to make a deal. As a result, there might be only one position where they could upgrade. For the purposes of this quick article, let’s say left field. Who could they get who might help the lineup?
Keep in mind, I don’t think they can make any move that can help the team at this point. Any trade for a bat is likely to work out as well as these pair of trades back in 2009 did. Garko posted a 68 OPS+ and Sanchez a 62 OPS+ in their partial seasons. Or they could be as bad as Ricky Ledee. But, remember: any move the Giants make will have to be a dumpster dive situation where they’re just hoping they get lucky with a player’s hot streak coinciding with their arrival.
Here, then, are three possibilities:
His 100 OPS+ and .313 wOBA puts him squarely in the Evan Longoria zone and his relative power might play well at AT&T Park. His defensive has been a liability (by FanGraphs’ measure, he’s cost the Orioles nearly a full win), and he might be unwilling to shift over to center field, but he is in the final year of his deal, the Orioles are set on rebuilding, and even if he is a franchise icon, the Giants might be able to get him for a song.
You’d think Mac Williamson would have to be in a deal like this, and certainly a pitcher or two. The Giants would need the Orioles to eat the rest of the salary, and that could complicate matters as Baltimore would surely be looking to get back a better set as a result, but every year it seems like there are players who the Giants surprise us with in terms of their willingness to move them.
A playoff hero who’s in the last year of his deal but has struggled through most of it, posting a 94 OPS+. His switch hitting ability and questionable defense might remind you of Alen Hanson and you may be on to something here. Gonzalez’s slugging percentage is under .400 for the first time since 2013 (his age-24 season) and he suffered a hand injury very recently, but he hit 23 home runs last season. The Astros have so much depth that they could move him and not miss a beat... unless he’s a huge clubhouse guy they’re unwilling to move in-season.
Still, for the Giants it’s a move that could work if only because Gonzalez’s salary is slightly less than Sam Dyson’s, and the Giants and Astros could effectively swap players. Dyson could be pitching insurance and the Giants could essentially get a free lottery ticket to see if his power returns down the stretch. It probably won’t, but given the few options available, maybe there’s something here.
He’s 37 and left-handed, which doesn’t suggest a full-time starter who will help the Giants very much down the stretch, but his 104 OPS+ and 9 home runs in the AL East show there’s still life in the bat and his .332 OBP would be 5th on the Giants, behind Andrew McCutchen. He’s owed around $1.8 million the rest of the way, so this might not work for that reason alone. Doubtful the Giants would want to sell another prospect just to acquire Curtis Granderson and doubtful the Blue Jays would want to take back all that money without getting something good in return.
Still, the Blue Jays might be motivated to get something rather than nothing for him and there’s a chance they could value a prospect in the Giants’ org that the Giants don’t (Mac Williamson springs to mind once more). Moving a reliever in this case, of course, doesn’t work, given Toronto’s place in the standings, and Brian Sabean & company still might not be on good terms with Mark Shapiro given what they asked for when he inquired about Javier Lopez back in 2013 while with Cleveland.
So, there you have it. Nothing available. Adam Jones, at best, probably guarantees a Gorkys Hernandez-level of performance but over a full season (as it appears Gorkys’ run appears to have come to an end), Marwin Gonzalez simply doubles Alen Hanson (which isn’t a terrible thing), and Curtis Granderson becomes either a platoon player or a shaky starter for the remaining 50-something games; therefore, it’s clear that out of all the moves available to the Giants, the best they can do is double a performance they’re already getting on the present roster, and it will likely cost them prospects in order to attain it.