San Francisco Giants: 5 Trade Proposals That Will Provide Instant Help
It’s fair to say that the San Francisco Giants may not be playing like the 2012 World Series Champions that they are. Currently with a win-loss record of 39-44, good for 5th in the horrible NL West division, the Giants find themselves at a point in the season where it’s gut check time. Do you rise above and finish strong, or do you continue down a path that leads to a flame out? Over the past few weeks, they have been reeling in the standings due to their poor pitching and struggling offense. The once dominating starting rotation has been relegated to mediocrity, as they currently rank 19th in ERA at 4.09, 25th in Quality Starts with 37, 17th in WHIP at 1.31, and 15th in Batting Average Against (BAA) at .253. Their offense has hit for average, ranking 6th in baseball at .268, but they aren’t scoring any runs. They rank 16th in Runs with 334, 13th in On Base Percentage (OBP) at .321, and 17th in Slugging at .395. All this equals up to a recipe for disaster. They do have one saving grace however, the trading deadline.
Over the past few season Giants General Manager, Brian Sabean, has been very aggressive at the trading deadline, going after high priced-high ticket players in order to improve his ball club. Two years ago, he traded highly-touted pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to the New York Mets for a half a season of OF Carlos Beltran, in the hopes that Beltran would be the added piece to a struggling Buster Posey-less Giants offense. That transaction did not return the positive gain the Giants had hope for, and they missed the playoffs. Last season, Sabean again showed his aggressive ways and went after Philadelphia Phillies OF Hunter Pence in return giving up catching prospect Tommy Joseph, and fan-favorite Nate Schierholtz. Unlike the Beltran trade, Pence lite a spark in the Giants’ clubhouse and well, I think I’ve mentioned it enough who won the 2012 World Series.
The point is for Giants’ fans that while our team may be on the ropes, it is by no means time to throw in the towel. For as bad as the Giants have been playing, the teams ahead of them, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, and now the Los Angeles Dodgers, have been playing equally as bad and haven’t separated themselves from the Giants. But the Giants also can’t stand pat, they have to act now. They desperately need to add a right-handed OF bat, a right-handed bullpen arm, and possibly (as surprising as this may sound based on past performance) a starting pitcher. They can’t keep running Mike Kickham or Chad Gaudin out there as their fifth starter. They can’t keep running Jean Machi, or George Kontos, or even Jeremy Affeldt out there against right-handed hitters in late innings. And they definitely can’t keep running Andres Torres out there as the everyday LF.
Now I know the Giants have been plagued with injuries. They’ve been without pitchers Ryan Vogelsong and Santiago Casilla for some time now, and there return seems to be approaching. They will be without CF and leadoff man Angel Pagan for most of the remainder of the season. But while we can use these as excuses, no team feels sorry for us. They aren’t going to spot us points or take it easy on us. So the question is: who do we get to help? The Giants have been rumored or linked to a lot of potential players who are on the trading block. In looking at what is perceived to be on the market, here are five trade proposals that if I were GM Sabean, I would either offer up or pull the trigger on.
Analysis: Norris has been pitching well for the 4A team that is the Astros (5-7 W-L, with a 3.35 ERA, 71 K’s, 32 BB’s, and a 1.37 WHIP); he comes cheap at $3 million, is under team control till the 2016 season, and is only 28 years old. It would take a pretty decent prospect to pry him away from the Astros, but the Astros aren’t going to be good for at least another 3-4 years and by that time, Norris will be a free agent and would command a big contract. It would behoove them to move Norris now while his value is high. For the Giants, they get a young, contract-friendly, starting pitcher who will stick in the rotation once Zito’s contract is up after this season. Blackburn has been pitching well in high-single A San Jose and is rated as the #2 prospect on Keith Law’s top 10 organizational list for the Giants, and is #80 on his top 100 prospect list for all of baseball. He is also rated as the #11 prospect on MLB.com’s top 20 organizational list for the Giants. By the time the Astros are really to be contending for a good record, Blackburn should ready to help in that effort. Kickham can be an immediate long-man out of the bullpen for them this season and maybe could start next season.
Analysis: Like Norris, Nolasco is a good pitcher pitching on a bad team. The Giants got a free showcase from Nolasco a few weeks ago when the Marlins were in San Francisco to play the Giants. Nolasco pitched fairly well, going 5.2 IP, allowing 9 H’s, 3 R’s, 2 BB’s, and 1 K. The big concern with acquiring Nolasco is that he makes a ton of money, $13 million, and is a free agent after this season, so he would be a rental player unless the Giants decided to resign him. After what happened to the Giants in the above mention Wheeler/Beltran trade, the Giants would be hesitant to part with any notable prospects for Nolasco. On the flip side, the Marlins are in complete rebuild mode and Nolasco has no part in their future. Letting him walk at the end of the season and get nothing in return would be dumb and they might shed his contract and get something for him while there’s a demand. The Marlins get two second-tier prospects in Agosta and Williamson who are both on Keith Law’s top 10 organizational prospect list for the Giants and have the potential be contributing big leaguers.
Analysis: I ran this trade by ESPN Sweetspot blogger, Dave Schoenfield, and he thought this would be enough to get both Cishek and Ruggiano from the Marlins. Cishek however, has been pitching well of late, not having blown a save opportunity since June 8th, so his value might have taken an up-tick. Cishek is also really cheap and would be under team control till 2018. Ruggiano, while not having the highest batting average (.229 AVG), does hit for power (11 HR), can steal bases (8 SB), and gives you good defense. You could slot him in CF and move Gregor Blanco back to LF. The Marlins have a crowded OF right now as it is and they need to get more at-bats for prospect Marcell Ozuna’s development. In return, the Marlins get another SP prospect in Kickham, although he would probably get moved to the bullpen as the Marlins already have a ton of young SP’ers. They are lacking depth at 2B, which is where Panik, the Giants first round pick from two years ago, could be useful to them.
Analysis: The White Sox might be the worst team in the AL. They have a lot of veteran players and a terrible farm system. They need to start off-loading some of these vet players and start doing so fast. Rios makes $13 million a year and is under contract through the 2015 season. He’s 32 years old and the White Sox aren’t competing any time soon. Rios has always been a nice power, speed combo player who bats for a good average (career .278 avg, with 18 HR’s and 23 SB). While he plays RF for the White Sox now, he is capable of playing LF for the Giants. Crain is having a tremendous season out of the pen for the White Sox, pitching with a .074 ERA with 46 K’s, 11 BB’s, and a WHIP of 1.145. But Crain also makes $4.5 million as a RP and unloading both Rios and Crain’s contracts, $17.5 million, off the White Sox books could be tempting. Crain is also a free agent after the season and will most likely command a big contract. It’s a lot of money for the Giants to take on, and it may hinder to possibility of resigning OF Hunter Pence, but with Barry Zito’s and Tim Lincecum’s big contracts coming off the books after the season, it’s conceivable that the Giants could keep Rios and resign Pence. The Giants in turn would be giving up a package of good prospects. I already mentions where Blackburn ranks, and Brown was considered at one point the Giants top prospect and among the top 100 in all of baseball. His star as fallen off a bit, but maybe a change of scenery could turn him around. Susac is also considered a good catching prospect that could play catcher if the Giants ever decided to move the reigning NL MVP to first base permanently.
Analysis: The Twins are a lot like the White Sox in that they aren’t going anywhere and have a lot of veteran players on their roster. But unlike the White Sox, the Twins just may have the best farm system in all of baseball. The one problem with their farm talent though is they are all at least 2-3 years away from seeing big-league action or having an impact. Still, they need to create paths for these players. Moving Willingham and his $7 million contract would be a start. Willingham hasn’t had the best of seasons, partly due to nagging injuries, but he can still hit for power from the right side of the plate (career average: 28 HR’s per season). He’s 34 years old and under contract for one more season. Perkins is a reliable arm out of the pen, but he is a lefty and the Giants pen is already heavy of left-handed RP. Still, quality is quality (2.05 ERA, with 7 BB’s, 43 K’s, and a 0.815 WHIP). I think the same package of players as mentions above in the White Sox trade will definitely net the Giants Willingham and Perkins – a much more cost-friendly package than Rios and Crain I should add – if it’s not enough to get them trade proposal #4 from the White Sox.