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When will the Giants start trading off their core pieces?

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There will be a lot of trades. When?

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Trades are coming.

This isn’t a matter of if, not when. It’s emphatically a matter of when.

Trades are coming, and lots of them. If you think Farhan Zaidi is quick to wield the DFA sword or the waiver wire bow, just wait until you see how quickly he can draw when a good, trusty trade is on the table.

We know that trades are coming for three reasons:

  1. Zaidi has a history of making a lot of trades
  2. Smart teams should make trades when they’re not going to compete
  3. The Giants are not going to compete

It’s that final point that is the hold up. Knowing when to pull the plug on the fleeting notion of contending is difficult. It’s a complex equation that factors in metrics, reality, sentimentality, and marketing.

Zaidi knew this team was unlikely to contend, but you can’t give up on them before they arrive. We’ve seen things far crazier things than the 2019 San Francisco Giants making the playoffs. You have to give them a chance to prove their incompetence on the field before you start making the moves.

And proving their incompetence they are.

The Giants are 24th among MLB’s 30 teams with a 19-25 record. They’re 27th in run differential, at -43. They’re 9.5 games behind the first place Los Angeles Dodgers, and five games out of the wild card.

They’re incompetent.

And yet . . . they’re still a hot streak - say, a 10-3 run - away from making things interesting.

As unlikely as that hot streak may be, it’s something worth hanging on to.

But for how long?

The Giants have a lot of trade chips. Those chips may not return a lot, but there are a lot of them there.

Here are some guys they can easily trade and likely will, eventually:

Will Smith
Sam Dyson
Tony Watson
Nick Vincent
Kevin Pillar
Stephen Vogt

Here are some guys they can easily trade and will likely consider:

Madison Bumgarner
Joe Panik

Here are some guys they can easily trade, and should trade, if they can string together a few quality games:

Derek Holland
Drew Pomeranz

Here is a guy they can probably trade if they’re willing to eat a lot of money:

Mark Melancon

Here is a guy they can maybe trade if they’re willing to eat a metric [redacted] ton of money:

Evan Longoria

That’s a lot of guys. And it doesn’t even include the younger relievers like Trevor Gott and Reyes Moronta, who may be foundational parts of the Giants, but also may return far more than they’re worth in a trade.

So the question becomes, when?

The longer the Giants wait to trade their chips, the more desperate other teams become. But the longer they wait, the more saturated the market becomes, and the more teams fall out of the race. There are pros and cons each way.

The answer, then, is when the team feels like it can truly pull the plug on any semblance of competitive baseball this year.

Do Mac Williamson, Buster Posey, and Evan Longoria heat up, while Shaun Anderson and Jeff Samardzija impress, and the team rides some A+ water treading into July, still just one hot streak away from being in this thing?

Or do they wilt and tumble further down the deflated path of relentless mediocrity, at which point Zaidi marches through the clubhouse, selecting players at random and assigning them to new locations?

Last year the Giants didn’t even try to move their pieces. They sent off Andrew McCutchen at the 11th hour, and pretended they didn’t see their trusty bullpen.

It was frustrating, but oddly cathartic. Because you knew, watching every game, that the team would be back again tomorrow. Bad, but familiar.

2019 is different. The team’s machinations are on display, and every time Will Smith strikes out the side, you wonder if you’ll ever root for him again, and salivate at what he might return in a trade.

It’s not a matter of if. Only a matter of when.

In conclusion: June, probably, maybe.