The San Francisco Giants have been the epitome of success ever since the 2009 season. The team finished that year with it’s first winning record since the Barry Bonds era. Tim Lincecum earned a second consecutive Cy Young Award while cementing his role as the face of the franchise. For the first time in ages, Bay Area baseball had become relevant again. Fans began the following season expecting further improvement and perhaps a shot at the playoffs. At that point in time the mere idea of a World Series berth was laughable. The Giants responded to critics by winning the 2010 World Series in one of the greatest Cinderella stories of all time. This was only the beginning as the franchise continued to flourish. The Giants thrived as perennial underdogs. Despite barely missing the playoffs in 2011, the group shocked the world by once again winning the World Series in 2012.
These impressive accomplishments created understandably high expectations for the 2013 season. Rather than break apart the 2012 championship roster, Giants management spent the offseason signing free agents Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro to extensions. The Giants came into the 2013 campaign with a team almost identical to that of the previous year. This has proved to be a misfire, seeing how the Giants are currently sitting fourth in the NL West with a disappointing 43-50 record. Pagan is injured and could be out for the rest of the year. Scutaro is having a fine season, but he alone cannot save a Giants squad that is littered with problems.
There are numerous issues that must be addressed; the rotation is the biggest concern, especially considering how it used to be the Giants biggest strong suit. Ryan Vogelsong’s injury was debilitating for the already struggling group. Chad Gaudin has filled in admirably as a spot starter, but his absence from the bullpen is also making a negative impact. With the trade deadline looming, the Giants are in need of another starter so that Gaudin can move back into the bullpen.
The most ideal acquisition would undoubtedly be Houston Astros starter, Bud Norris. The San Francisco native is an up and coming innings eater who is playing on a losing team looking to deal. Norris is earning a very modest three million this season under his current three-year contract. If the Giants were able to strike a deal with the Astros, Norris would be under control for at least two more seasons as an arbitration player. The price tag is more than reasonable and he won’t be eligible for free agency until the 2015 season. This deal makes sense for the present and for the future. Norris would be a suitable third starter behind stalwarts Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner for years to come. Norris is enjoying a fine season as he currently sports a 3.63 ERA and a 2.2 WAR.
Matt Garza is also another attractive option that the Giants would gladly consider. It has been said that the right-hander will likely be traded before he makes another start. The Giants are underdogs in the Garza sweepstakes. However, the team’s recent championship success is a factor that many other franchises lack. That could be a major factor in swaying his decision. Garza has been hot as of late and is enjoying one of the better seasons of his career. He currently boasts a 3.17 ERA, a 6-1 record, and a 1.14 WHIP. Other contenders include Washington, Los Angeles (Dodgers), Cleveland, Toronto, Texas, Boston, and Baltimore. Garza will be a free agent at the end of the year, which could mean several things for his future with the Giants. Management could offer Garza a contract if he finds success pitching in AT&T Park. Realistically, He could also cost the Giants a top prospect and test free agency at season’s end. The Giants don’t want to part ways with top prospects Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton or Clayton Blackburn.
The Giants have had a history of making seemingly insignificant deals, which eventually turn out to be hugely successful. Scutaro is a perfect example and so is 2010 playoff hero, Cody Ross. These were players who were essentially picked up from the scrap heap; both players played crucial roles in the Giants two World Series Championship years. Pagan’s injury has been devastating to a very thin outfield. Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco are now both starting; neither player provides enough impact to warrant a full time job. They are fantastic platoon players, however, providing the Giants with great speed and base running. The recently signed Jeff Francoeur could prove to be another move that pans out in the Giants favor. Frenchy has had a history of finding success after switching teams. Management signed him for a pro-rated Major League minimum; the Royals will continue to be responsible for the remainder of his 6.75 million contract. The outfield needs another able body and Francoeur has the ability to fix that. Francoeur is cheap and provides energy, regardless of his poor season so far. He’s also a capable defender with one of the biggest cannons in the league. This is key for AT&T Park in right field. Hopefully he can find new life with the Giants, similar to Pat Burrell in 2010.
The Giants and the White Sox have had a history of making deals, with rumors circulating the past several seasons regarding a trade for Alex Rios. This year is no different, especially considering the problems currently facing the outfield. Rios is owed 13 million in 2014, so if a deal is completed, Pence might be on his way out. Rios provides the Giants a much-needed bat that could help spark the sputtering offense. The issue is his lackluster defense, which is especially important in right field. If the Giants were able to strike a deal, the Giants could be looking at a 2014 outfield featuring Pence, Pagan and Rios. This lineup would provide stability for several years to come.
Another White Sox player, Jake Peavey, is also on the Giants radar. Chicago is a seller this season and is looking to cut salaries during this rebuilding process. Peavey also comes with a steep price tag, which sits at 14.5 million for the next two seasons. Peavey would provide another arm that would sit behind Cain and Bumgarner at the third spot. He has had a history of success and is currently in the midst of a respectable year. However, Peavey does come with some baggage, as he has had a history of injury problems. This is a double-edged sword because it could also end up lowering his price tag. Both White Sox Players are expensive, but would provide support this year and the future.
The Giants have many options to consider before the July 31st trade deadline. Brian Sabean isn’t afraid to take chances and deal prospects. Fans should expect at least one addition before the end of the month. Interestingly enough, there has been talk of the Giants becoming sellers as well. This applies primarily to lefty Javier Lopez; multiple teams have been impressed by his season thus far and are in talks with the Giants for a possible deal. The Giants have not been dealers in several seasons, but with the club’s current play, it is a very realistic possibility. Tune in to the next several weeks for what should be an entertaining road to the trade deadline.