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Ranking the trade chips, vol. II

The Giants are just 10 games under .500 — why blow it up now?! ...

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I tried to put forth a general thought-process behind ranking the Giants’ trade chips:

  • Don’t assume the Giants will pay down a player’s salary.
  • Don’t assume a player will waive his no-trade clause.
  • Players not on the 25-man roster could absolutely be traded, but ranking them is harder to define.

That third bullet point leads me to my first tweak to the “rules” for this week’s ranking: Aramis Garcia, while not on the 25-man roster anymore, was very recently mentioned as a possible trade chip and it was reported the Padres are willing to move all but Tatis Jr., Machado, and Hosmer in trade talks while looking for a center fielder, offense-plus catcher, and controllable pitching.

The Giants might not trade within their division again, even if Farhan Zaidi seems trycurious about it and Aramis Garcia would certainly be no centerpiece of a deal — he alone wouldn’t net the Giants a Hunter Renfroe or (gasp, dare I dream) Franmil Reyes — but do the Giants even have enough to swing a big or even big-ish trade ahead of the hard deadline?

We’re about to find out. With the draft over and Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel now signed, we’re in trade season, baby, and we’re going to start seeing moves very soon. Here’s how Giants players could fit into that trade market.

10. Brandon Belt

Last week - #6

Belt’s on base percentage of .376 is 31st in baseball, ahead of Luke Voit, J.D. Martinez, Max Muncy, Michael Brantley, and Francisco Lindor — all big name players for their teams. Unfortunately, his .474 slugging percentage is 74th, ahead of Starling Marte, Khris Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Bryce Harper. I say “unfortunately” because his decent numbers can’t overcome his age (31), salary (he’s owed about $40 million between now and the end of his deal, after the 2021 season), and clearly balky knee. He just looks like he’s lost a step, and knee problems tend to get worse without lots of rest.

Even ignoring his no-trade list, potential teams around the league seem content with calling up their own prospects or shifting players around to play first versus looking outside for a market-rate upgrade. He still has value, but something wild would need to happen for him to be moved. As the best hitter on the team still, I couldn’t in good conscience leave him off the list entirely.

9. Aramís García

Last week - Pablo Sandoval at #5

Sandoval was ranked as the Giants’ fifth-most valuable trade chip last weekend by me, an idiot, who wrote:

Trading for a league minimum team mascot and cheerleader might not be a GM’s top priority, but for a younger team trying to make a run, an experienced winner with a youthful vibe would fit the bill in a lot of places.

The Giants wouldn’t likely get very much in return for him, so that’s why I’m sticking him square in the middle of the list. Any sort of return would seemingly be a boon

But since the Giants left on their Miami-Baltimore-New York road trip, Sandoval is hitting just .206/.275/.353 on a .222 batting average on balls in play. Teams would be wary of him as a key decline candidate, and whatever clubhouse spark he might provide would be extinguished by poor performance. No, Sandoval only has value to the Giants at this point.

But Aramis — oh, Aramis. He’s played in all of six games for the Giants this year, but two of his three hits have been home runs. Sure, his 17 walks to 50 strikeouts in Triple-A is alarming, but he’s still slugging .473 in Sacramento and is just 26. Somebody will want a backstop with pop (the Padres?), and would be willing to overlook that unseemly propensity of his for strikeouts.

8. Joe Panik

Last week - #4

Panik’s not hitting a lot and that’s why I dropped him down so far, but maybe I’m wrong here. As Kenny points out, Joe Panik is getting hosed by umpires, which means he’s actually even better at strike zone judgment than we thought. Still, he’s not knocking the crap out of the ball — he has been a solid contributor.

Worth noting that, since May 3rd, Joe Panik is hitting .273/.345/.386 with 14 walks against 16 strikeouts, raising his OPS from .550 to .661, while leading all second basemen in defense. He also has one more year of team control. Trading teams might just want someone sexier.

7. Sam Dyson

Last week - #10

I said at the time that I probably ranked him too low but argued that it was because of his total cost and his overall value. He’s raised his fWAR to 0.5 (from 0.4) in just a week, which still isn’t spectacular, but it’s solid.

But to really highlight his value, beyond his high average fastball velocity, is his groundball rate. 57.7% is good for 12th among all relievers. But just to really single him out here, Mark Melancon’s GB rate is higher (60.3%) but comes in with just a 0.2 fWAR. Two of the top twelve relievers in GB rate have negative WAR value and four have lower WAR value than Dyson. If we remove those six, here’s the list of best groundball relievers right now (sorted by GB rate):

  1. Zack Britton — NYY | 76% | 0.5 fWAR
  2. Luke Jackson — ATL | 71.1% | 0.9 fWAR
  3. Chad Bettis — COL | 69.3% | 0.5 fWAR
  4. Will Harris — HOU | 58.6% | 0.6 fWAR
  5. Matt Barnes — BOS | 58.5% | 0.9 fWAR
  6. Sam Dyson — SF | 57.7% | 0.5 fWAR

The best groundball relievers are on playoff teams, but literally the very next best one is on the Giants. Dyson has value, he’s just not as likely to be moved as easily some others.

6. Tyler Austin

Last week - #7

My confidence that another team out there would want a batter who crushes lefties has taken a hit after it became clear from another week play that Austin can’t hit pitches away. That’s a problem. Could be fixed by another team, but maybe not. Given the cost and power potential, though, I’m still going to keep him around this part of the list. He’s also hitting .150/.227/.150 this month (3-for-22), so consider this my worst ranking.

5. Reyes Moronta

Last week - #2

After accumulating a 4.02 ERA since May 1st, I’m thinking Moronta is experiencing either some sort of arm fatigue or major league teams have scouted him enough to figure him out. He’s walked 12 batters in his last 15.2 IP and struck out just 21 on a .351 BAbip.

Yeah, there was some fluky contact by the Mets that really shouldn’t count against him, but at the same time, he’s not making a scoreless, hitless inning a foregone conclusion right now, and I think despite the high velocity fastball, age, and years of team control that combine to make him one of the best tradeable talents on the roster right now, his recent performance must necessarily knock him down a bit.

4. Tony Watson

Last week - #9

Meanwhile, Watson has stabilized a bit, and although that 3.90 FIP he’s sporting looks bad, it’s in part because of two home runs he’s allowed this month, both against right-handed batters. Otherwise, he hasn’t walked anyone in his past 6.2 innings while striking out six.

He’s owed at least $3.5 million the rest of the season (remember: his contract had a bunch of performance escalators built in that helped Bobby Evans stay under the cap last season but raised Watson’s base pay this year), which might knock out quite a few contenders, but his track record and return to form should still keep other teams in the running.

3. Trevor Gott

Last week - #8

League minimum. Years of team control. A 95+ mph fastball that he’s using to great effect. This seems like a quite deal that the national media ignores but both the acquiring team and the Giants wind up loving.

2. Madison Bumgarner

Last week - #3

He’s back. He’s a name brand. The Giants won’t get much for him, but teams are already lining up to make their weak offers.

1. Will Smith

Last week - #1

Perfect in saves and a top five reliever in the game. Plenty of teams will want a second closer or lockdown reliever late in the game and the Giants have just the guy.