The San Francisco Giants have pushed to within striking distance of a playoff spot, but their best trade deadline plan is still to sell.
While you weren’t looking, the San Francisco Giants won five games in a row and 12 of their last 14 to get to two games below .500 (47-49) and 2.5 games back of a Wild Card spot in the National League. Even with that, ESPN’s Jeff Passan pointed to the Giants remaining a seller heading toward the July 31 trade deadline.
Giants president Farhan Zaidi immediately pushed back against Passan’s report during a radio interview, suggesting it’s not as simple as being a buyer or a seller and this year was never seen a a rebuilding or throwaway season.
The Giants have one of the top starting pitchers available in Madison Bumgarner, and Will Smith is the best reliever available. They will also both be free agents after the season. Pablo Sandoval has been hitting solidly this year (11 home runs, .824 OPS), and he has gotten some interest as well with a cheap salary this year and an easily picked up buyout (by the Red Sox) for 2020.
The Giants have a bottom tier farm system by every ranking and measure. A lingering win-now mode in the wake of three World Series titles from 2010-2014 has hurt the cultivation of young talent, and Zaidi came in from the Dodgers last offseason on the idea of replenishing that reservoir.
With Bumgarner and Smith as prominent trade chips, perhaps in a package deal to the same team, the Giants have a rare opportunity to add multiple good prospects to their system as pitching commands a premium heading toward July 31. Frankly, that opportunity can’t be turned away from.
Adding pieces to bolster a chance to earn a spot in the NL Wild Card Game is a nice, fan base-inspiring, idea. But that’s the ceiling for the Giants in 2019, and it would come at the expense of a longer-range plan to go with the inherent risk of losing Bumgarner and Smith for nothing at the end of the season anyway.