In all, there have been approximately 60 trades made since the start of the 2018 season, and the Giants participated in one of them, moving Austin Jackson, Cory Gearrin, and Jason Bahr to the Rangers for salary relief on July 8th.
Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean opted out of the non-waiver trade deadline frenzy on Tuesday, which means that, for better or worse, the team you’ve seen is the team you’re going to get over the next two months.
The calculation was that the Giants would’ve had to give up simply too much to get anything helpful and if anyone they might’ve wanted to move a month ago got hurt or underperformed to an extent that moving them was impossible. And that no matter what happens to the baseball team in August, the 49ers season would begin soon enough to take the pressure off. A .500 team is palatable when there are other, better distractions around.
The Giants will be going into 2019 with some question marks. One of those won’t be “can they get All-Star performances from five 30-plus year old players (Posey, Crawford, Belt, Longoria, Gorkys Hernandez)” because the team believes 1) for better or worse, they have to and 2) those guys will always be able to perform exactly the same year in and year out and that players only get better deeper into their thirties. And the rest of the lineup, Joe Panik, Steven Duggar, and the other corner outfield spot are all seen as places where the Giants might be able to improve.
Certainly, with Minnesota’s trade of Brian Dozier to the Dodgers, the Giants don’t have to worry about losing a draft pick to sign him, and he makes a wonderful fallback option for when the Giants strike out on Bryce Harper. This will allow them flexibility to include Joe Panik in a trade package for perhaps a power-hitting left fielder or a “more consistent”/veteran center fielder (admit it: you know this will be in their thinking) or even a controllable starting pitcher, as that was something the beat reporters indicated throughout Tuesday that the Giants were most interested in acquiring.
But that’s the offseason. What about the rest of this season? Sam Dyson and Andrew McCutchen could still go on waivers in August, but that seems very unlikely at this point. Unless a team gets incredibly desperate, the Giants will probably hold onto them just as a make-good for both guys who’ve worked so hard and to avoid removing pieces that can help them get to that 82-win range. Of course, that could change in an instant if the Giants fall 10 below .500 and the latest CBT calculation shows that they’re actually closer to the line than they thought — then you might see both players put on waivers and allowed to be claimed without any compensation by another team.
What they could’ve done is traded Andrew McCutchen for salary relief and maybe one intriguing-ish prospect. Maybe moved Tony Watson for salary relief and a couple of intriguing-ish arms. Maybe moved Will Smith for a top-100 hitting prospect. Or maybe moved Sam Dyson for salary relief or a swap of wonky contracts. They were never going to move Madison Bumgarner. They were never going to do something like Belt and a pitcher for the top 3 system prospects or something creative like that (to be clear: I’m not advocating for this specific deal, just using it as an example). Not their style. Never will be.
This is the state of the Giants, same as it ever was. Their focus will always be on improving the big league team, to the detriment of the farm, if necessary. Because of that, the farm system will never be a reliable source of talent for the Giants, and we’ll repeat this cycle all over again.
Most Good Giants fans already knew this and are happy about it. To the Other Giants Fans — the bad fans — know that this is the team that you’ve thrown your support behind all these years. They’re not the ones who need to change — you are. The Giants have always viewed prospects as unreliable, so why would they ever trade reliable veterans for unreliable prospects? Ceiling and scouting can’t compare to track records, the back of that baseball card.
It’s fine and good that the Giants stood pat today. They were never going to do anything innovative with their roster and nothing conventional was available to them. And on we go.