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Ranking the trade chips, vol. III

Aw shoot. Here we go again.

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It’s that time of the week again where we rank players we’ve come to know and love and then kinda quietly become embarrassed for as they climb down the other side of their careers in hopes of making us feel better about the long rebuild ahead for the Giants.

Will any of these players be traded to another team and in return bring back a future star of the San Francisco Giants? That’s precisely what this ranking aims to do as we tick closer to the final trade deadline of the regular season, Wednesday, July 31st. You can look at previous volumes right here:

Vol. I
Vol. II

This week, I’m amending the criteria. Right now, here’s what the rankings consider:

  • 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.

Adding to the list this week:

  • The Giants will only move him for a deal that upgrades some other area of the organization.

That last one’s more difficult to quantify but an important distinction. I don’t think most of the Giants who might be available in trade would net them a team’s top 30 prospect, but could Tyler Austin bring back a high velocity A-ball or Double-A arm? Maybe. So, performance quality/value + trade return is the weightiest part of the rankings.

Just in case that hasn’t been clear these past two weeks.

A caveat about last week’s rankings: they were way too susceptible to trends. Aramis Garcia was #9. He’s hitting .222 in Triple-A. Sure, a .798 OPS thanks to a .309 OBP and .451 slugging, but it’s not all that impressive. He certainly wouldn’t be the top line player of a major move and even if he does wind up being the main player in a deal, would the value of the return be greater than the value of the return for these next ten Giants who could be traded?

I’ll tell you one dude who won’t be: Drew Pomeranz. After a hot start to the month — zero earned runs in two starts, 12 K to 4 BB in 10 innings — he absolutely sucked against the Dodgers last night. Andrew Baggarly talked about how he’d tweaked his arm slot and maybe figured something out. Grant Brisbee thought the two good starts after so many bad ones reaffirmed his belief that Pomeranz was the best signing of the offseason (this was on their podcast, which you can listen to if you have a subscription to The Athletic)... to the point that, as the inferior writer of those two and not even remotely an insider of any kind, I had him on this list. Not so. He might have trade value, but not obvious value. So, he’s not on the list!

10. Brandon Belt

Last week: #10

His on base percentage has dropped to .364, tying him for 38th with Justin Smoak. His timing has looked off the past week and while his strike zone judgment has remained impeccable, his inability to drive the ball or really do much when he does get a pitch in the zone is something even I’m seeing, and I’m not a scout looking for players who could improve my time.

Factor in that extensive concussion-based injury history, the wonky knee, the no trade list, his advanced age, and that intense contract, and he has very little value except for some occasional pop, an elite eye, and solid defense at first base. Maybe an injury at another spot opens up a space for him, but his value has taken a huge hit stretching back to last season.

The Yankees went after 36-year old Edwin Encarnacion because, well, he’s been consistently better than Belt. That move would seemingly offset concerns about contract and age if the player has demonstrated consistent performance, but then again, Encarnacion has averaged 27 home runs a year over his 15-year career (402 divided by 15). Belt has averaged just 13.

The Mariners received the Yankees #27 prospect, RHP Juan Then, and 19-year old with a 95 mph fastball. He’s now Seattle’s #16 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The two teams are splitting Encarnacion’s contract the rest of the way.

9. Tyler Austin

Last week: #7

I’m putting Austin slightly ahead of Belt because I think his ceiling might just be whatever Belt’s is but that the likelihood of him being moved is slightly greater than Belt’s because of the cost involved and the team control beyond this year.

He showed some power to the opposite field last night in Dodger Stadium on a night when the ball was carrying, but until last night, his June has been pretty miserable: .311 OPS in 30 plate appearances with 13 strikeouts to 3 walks.

8. Stephen Vogt

Last week: not ranked

I had Drew Pomeranz here at first, but after last night’s start, I couldn’t in good conscience put him above anybody else on this list. And why not Pablo Sandoval? Although he’s been a great pinch hitter, he’s still been a bad switch hitter (.648 OPS batting right-handed versus a .951 OPS batting left-handed); and, most importantly, he’s one of the worst hitters in baseball against 95+ (2-for-19 this season, 20-for-113 in the Statcast era). The playoffs will be nothing more than a gauntlet of 95+ mph arms for hitters.

So, Vogt jumped in here as sort of an afterthought. A left-handed hitting catcher with a little pop who has decent strike zone judgment, is solid behind the plate, and runs a little bit faster than the average catcher should have some value to some contender if the backup catcher market gets too tough.

Nick Hundley just landed on the IL, for instance. Surely, the A’s would be open to a reunion.

7. Joe Panik

Last week: #8

His OBP in the leadoff spot dropped 10 points over the weekend, but it’s still at .333. Couple that with him still being hard to strike out, on a cheap contract with team control beyond this year, and his being the best defensive second baseman in baseball right now and he has some value to a contending team.

6. Sam Dyson

Last week: #7

The 46th-most valuable reliever per fWAR (0.5), about the same as last week. His 1.36 BB/9 is good for 11th-best. His 0.55 HR/9 is right behind the AstrosRyan Pressly.

Another component of his great line: a 3.10 xFIP (20th in MLB). He wouldn’t be the final piece of any rebuilt or ace bullpen, but it has been difficult for hitters to make great contact against him this season, and he’d be better than the average reliever in any ‘pen.

5. Reyes Moronta

Last week: #5

Young, controllable, a gaudy 12.62 K/9, which is just below Aroldis Chapman’s (12.69), but that 5.28 BB/9 won’t work and we’ve already seen Bruce Bochy stay away from him a little bit over the past few weeks. They could be tinkering with him behind the scenes to fix that walk problem or limiting his workload in advance of the trade deadline roster purge we all figure to be coming.

4. Trevor Gott

Last week: #3

He’s been slightly more valuable than Sam Dyson (0.6 fWAR), but under the hood, there are some notes of concern. I’m not sure why I didn’t put him just beneath Reyes Moronta — I guess it’s Moronta’s walk problem — but Gott’s issues just seem to be more “luck-based” than we might expect. First, there’s the .253 BAbip — .300 is average. You’re below that, you’re considered, statistically, “lucky”, due for a regression to the mean.

Gott’s FIP is 2.97 thanks to that .253 BAbip, but his xFIP (which uses the league average of home runs to fly ball rates) says that his expected Fielding Independent Pitching should be 4.11. Which means that we’re likely to see more grand slams against Gott.

3. Tony Watson

Last week: #4

Steady as can be. He has five holds this month despite allowing three runs in 8.2 IP. He’s still doing better against righties than lefties (.588 OPS vs. .882), which is why he’s the primary setup man right now. His consistency and slight reverse platoon split are attractive.

2. Madison Bumgarner

Last week: #2

This all hinges on how well he does tonight, I suppose. Everybody knows that the boost in average exit velocity (+2 mph versus last year) and one of the highest hard hit rates in the league (43.5%) are really bad marks against a starting pitcher, and despite his icon status, effectiveness is a part of value. Oh, he’s still effective, he’s just not, you know, top 30 starter material anymore.

1. Will Smith

Last week: #1

Still the 11th-most valuable reliever (1.0 fWAR), now 19-for-19 in save opportunities, closing out the best teams in the league. He has the most value, which is why it might be a month before he’s actually moved.