When is it too early in the season to talk about trading away every Giants player you love for prospects and spare parts?
Trick question! It’s never too early to talk about trading. Let the rosterbating begin!
Yesterday, the Giants staged yet another thrilling comeback (hooray!), boosting their record to 17-23 (hooray?) and remaining 8.5 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers (oh). Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner released his updated no-trade list, spurring questions of where he’ll ultimately end up later this season, and self-appointed class clown/disgruntled employee Derek Holland’s errant complaint seemed to suggest that more drastic roster moves are on the way.
Given Farhan Zaidi’s penchant for roster churn and the head-scratching elimination of August waivers, the inevitable Tradexodus may be starting sooner than we think. So let’s take a look at some of the Giants’ bigger trading chips and see whose trade stock has gone up, gone down, or remain unchanged through 40 games.
Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, Evan Longoria, Jeff Samardzija, Derek Holland, Mark Melancon
Before we get started, I think it’s worth pointing just how many players I’d put in what I’m going to call the “don’t even bother” category. None of these players are likely to get traded for some combination of reasons: Either their salaries are onerous, they’re (fake) injured, they’ve got NTCs, the Giants need somebody to throw pitches, they’re too beautiful for other teams…
…or they’re, you know, not good at baseball.
At least, not good enough to offset the other listed issues and to net the Giants anything of real value. So they’re staying put for now.
Brandon Belt – Stock Remains Unchanged
2019 Stats: .228/.347/.480, 6 HR, .827 OPS
Contract (including 2019): 3 years, $51.6 million
Number of strikeouts caught looking: ∞
Despite an ugly batting average, Belt has put up a typically solid season so far, getting on base at an above-average clip and racking up a team-leading 17 extra-base hits. Outside of Pablo(l) Sandoval, he’s basically been the only competent hitter on the team.
Still, the ugly average combined with Oracle Park’s power-suppressing ways, a buyer’s market for first basemen, and a relatively hefty salary keeps him from rising the tradability ranks.
Possible trade destination: Houston Astros
Yuli Gurriel has been to the Astros this season what Captain Hammer was to his girlfriend Penny—pretty okay, I guess. While Belt wouldn’t be a huge improvement, his superior OBP would make him look absolutely juicy batting ahead of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and George Springer. Plus, he might actually hit 30 home runs!
There are hang-ups, of course. A swap of Belt and money for Gurriel plus a prospect or two should be able to offset concerns about Belt’s salary, but the bigger issue is the emergence of Houston’s latest prospect, Seth Beer, who’s been lighting up A+ ball in a way that’s reminiscent of, well, Belt. Why pay for an old Wii console when the Astros can just wait a little bit longer for the Switch?
Madison Bumgarner – Stock Up!
2019 stats: 3.99 ERA, 51 K, 8 BB, 3.48 FIP, 101 ERA+
Contract (including 2019): 1 year, $12 million
Stance on pitchers hitting: F*** the DH
Bumgarner may be a living Giants legend, but ever since his two-wheeled misadventure, he hasn’t been the same pitcher—or at least, he hasn’t put up the same numbers that we’d gotten used to.
But that doesn’t mean he’s bad now! Quite the opposite—he’s still a solid pitcher putting up solid numbers. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is a fantastic 6.38, and his FIP suggests he’s pitching better than his ERA and win-loss record indicate. And after a lackluster 2018, Bumgarner’s improved control this season is doing his trade stock a lot of favors.
That said, his other peripherals tell a different story. His HR/9 rate has remained up while his ground ball rate has cratered, from 42.7% last year to 36.8% this year.
The season is young, of course, so those numbers should hopefully regress to the mean, but so may the strikeouts and walks. Right now, I’d say his stock is up, but that could change quickly.
Possible trade destination: San Diego Padres
The Giants rarely trade within the division, even though such trades have always worked out for them. However, Zaidi showed no such compunction while the Dodgers’ GM, and it stands to reason he won’t have a problem trading to division rivals now that he’s in charge of the Giants’ baseball operations.
And it just so happens there’s a perfect candidate in San Diego. A combination of outrageously talented youngsters, Manny Machado, and an unstoppable closer in Kirby Yates could put the Padres in the position to snatch a Wild Card spot this year. And who better to help them end the Dodgers’ terrible reign of villainy than a World Series hero who has no problem carrying a team on his back? That’s worth a couple of players from a farm that’s just flush with top 100 prospects, right?
There are a lot of ifs, but if the Padres have a chance at the playoffs and Bumgarner continues to perform, it could be a perfect marriage.
Will Smith, Tony Watson, Reyes Moronta – Stock WAY UP!
2019 stats: Smith – 3.07 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 134 ERA+; Watson – 2.70 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 152 ERA+; Moronta – 2.12 ERA, 1.81 FIP, 193 ERA+
Contracts (including 2019): Smith – 1 year, $4.225 million; Watson – 1 year, $2.5 million (second year is a player option); Moronta – 6 years of player control
Pun grade: 70
Wowie zowie, look at those numbers! There is no question that the Giants’ bullpen has been its brightest spot, and Smith, Watson, and Moronta are undoubtedly the biggest reasons why—and for that reason, they are likely to score the biggest returns. While I don’t think Moronta is leaving any time soon, there is no reason Zaidi shouldn’t bite at the right offer.
Potential trade destination: Los Angeles Dodgers
Okay, hear me out—
—wait, just let me explain—
—if you just give me one second—
Look, I get it: There are plenty of teams who need quality relievers. So why the @!#$% would the Giants trade with their mortal enemies and the scourge of all that is good?
One simple reason: I want Alex Verdugo, and I’m willing for the Giants to do what it takes to get him.
Of course, this is all a pipe dream. Even with their rickety bullpen, the Dodgers would be crazy to trade a talent like Verdugo for a couple of one-year rentals or even six years of Moronta. Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs is a much more likely get.
But I want Verdugo. Or Cody Bellinger. Or Walker Buehler.
It’s only fair that the Dodgers share.