After the Giants’ losing streak reached four games, I started thinking about an article for today that was basically “What is Andrew McCutchen’s trade value?”, as I saw him as being the best player the Giants would be willing to move at the deadline in order to realize their dream of resetting their Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) penalty while possibly improving for this year or next. But over the weekend, I received the following message from the only reliable industry source I have who’s not named Grant Brisbee:
Word on the street is that everyone is on the chopping block minus Posey and Crawford.
I know, I know. This isn’t a site for news. But this isn’t a joke! I’ve cultivated exactly one real source and several fake sources since becoming managing editor and this is from that one real source. Since I haven’t been able to confirm with a second source, I acknowledge that we have to exercise a degree of skepticism, but I think this information coupled with Sunday’s trade suggests that the Giants very well could be changing their decades-old strategy of relying on veterans come hell or high water and actually retooling the team more drastically than ever before, perhaps not since Brian Sabean traded Matt Williams.
In that scenario, Sabean traded aging players to retool around Barry Bonds. Posey and Crawford are not Bonds’ equal, of course, nor is either likely to continue Hall of Fame-level production beyond the next year or two (Posey has already fallen off drastically and is down to about 4 games a week), but the roster overall might not be quite as dire as previous iterations, including last season, and so the idea of more drastically “reloading” as opposed to tearing it all down could be the new guiding principle.
Does this mean I think a TOTAL REBUILD is imminent? No. I don’t believe the Giants will ever go Full Tank and I think the idea of making every player available, save Crawford and Posey (can’t alienate the season ticket holders, after all), doesn’t automatically suggest that they’re punting away 2018. They’ve hovered around .500 all year, and if they can make a couple of big moves now, then they might put themselves in a position to still hang around .500 but with the upside potential of a better 2019 that’s driven by a younger core.
I had to take a long walk after reading that text message. I never thought the Giants would even let slip that they were “open for business” in any meaningful way. Their list of “untouchables” would never match up with mine, and after celebrating 60 years in San Francisco, I thought the Giants would always cling to nostalgia over continued success.
The idea of this current roster rambling to 81-81 doesn’t really feel like one that will sustain excitement into next year or the next decade, though, and maybe that’s the itch the Giants feel they finally need to scratch.
Then again, one of the leading sources of Giants news and rumors, a reporter with access to dozens of people in and around the organization had this to say about big moves:
"California dreaming" is how one Giants executive described it when asked about any Yankees/Bumgarner trade speculation. https://t.co/FSgKqEq6QI— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 7, 2018
So while this rumor contradicts that, the tweet doesn’t necessarily contradict the rumor. Maybe the Giants will never trade Bumgarner to the Yankees, but another team is possible. Or perhaps Bumgarner is off-limits but besides him and the other two mentioned, everyone else is fair game. The proof will be in the deadline, of course, but let’s forge ahead anyway.
Even if they don’t trade Madison Bumgarner to the Yankees, they wouldn’t need to look any further than the Yankees to see a path forward. The 2016 Yankees finished 84-78, 5 games out of the 2nd Wild Card position, after trading away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova to four different teams that were all fighting for playoff spots. The Yankees wound up in the ALCS the following season after re-signing Chapman.
The Giants could just as easily re-sign Bumgarner in 2020, or simply be in a strong position to sign a Harper or Machado and compete for a postseason spot in 2019 all because of moves made in 2018. Does either guy make up for the loss of an ace? Probably not. But a superstar surrounded by a trove of exciting young players can buoy a team until another ace comes along. A farm director’s work is never finished.
There are no guarantees, but there are always possibilities so long as you’re willing to keep your options open, and by (possibly) declaring almost most everyone available in trade, the Giants are at least assuming the most reasonable posture for a team in their situation. Again, possibly. Provided the rumor is accurate.
Obviously, it’s that time of the year when all sorts of crazy scenarios start flying, but this one has a little more weight to it than I’d normally believe about the Giants. In the abstract, it sounds too far out of character for them, but the tangible reality (yesterday’s trade) suggests that it just might be true. That means the big shakeup has already happened: the Giants changed their mindset about the past. They’re ready to leave it there. If they can do that, then anything is possible, at the deadline and beyond.