MLB Trade Deadline: Where the San Francisco Giants Should Make a Move
Last year, Brian Sabean answered the groans of the fan base and made a deadline deal to acquire outfielder Carlos Beltran in exchange for top pitching project Zack Wheeler.
Beltran was thought to be the answer to the Giants' 2011 offensive woes and push them back to their 2010 level in their attempt to repeat as World Series champions.
Instead, the trade ended a failure as Beltran got injured, the Giants missed the playoffs and Beltran signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason.
Sabean seems to have broken even in deadline acquisitions, and the Beltran bust should not overshadow past aggressive attempts that succeeded in bettering the Giants for both the short and long runs. For every Sidney Ponson bust that Sabean traded for, there has been a deadline deal for Freddy Sanchez to even out the franchise.
So what, if anything, does the 2012 trade deadline hold for the San Francisco Giants?
The Giants are fortunate that many of their current weaknesses may likely be strengthened with the expected return of injured players.
That said, the division leading Dodgers are a strong team who will only get stronger when injured Matt Kemp returns. Along with Kemp, it has to be assumed the Dodgers will attempt to improve through trades as well, as they need to mask the Kemp injury. Although the Giants should not try to keep up with Joneses, they cannot sit idle as the rival first place Dodgers make moves.
The following are two guys I think Sabean should inquire to trade for in the next two months. These guys, whose price tags vary and may not even be on the trading block, would surely improve a weakness for the Giants as well as be a strong long-term option. All that said, Sabean will likely be cautious after last year's Beltran bust.
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While the Giants outfield has been producing strong numbers offensively, that is mainly because Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan are having exceptional seasons.
Although the Gregor Blanco/Nate Schierholtz tandem has not failed, the Giants could use an offensive boost from an everyday third outfielder.
Unfortunately, the Giants don't have the luxury of acquiring a big-bat without considering their defensive abilities, as AT&T Park is too large to sacrifice one outfielder solely for offensive talents.
Willingham, who has hit 11 home runs on the season, would add some power to the Giants offense without sacrificing too much defensively.
The Giants could probably offer the last place Twins young prospects as Minnesota may look to rebuild around All-Star catcher Joe Mauer.
That said, Willingham just signed a three-year deal with the Twins, and Minnesota seems to like him, so his price tag may be higher than the Giants are willing to pay.
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While Lowrie is displaying great talent and producing great numbers in a season that his next contract hinges on, he would probably love to do it while playing for a contender.
With Freddy Sanchez set to return in the next few weeks, the Giants look to strengthen the weakest part of their lineup: the middle infield.
The Giants need changes to occur up the middle as the Crawford/Burris/Theriot trio has produced little offensively and made many errors in the field.
With 12 home runs and 28 RBI thus far, Lowrie would have a positive impact on the 2012 Giants, who could then re-sign Lowrie next season, both sides willing.
Best case scenario—Sanchez returns strong while Lowrie continues a career year.
Worst case scenario—the Giants make no move, Sanchez isn't the same when he returns from shoulder surgery and the Giants are stuck with the Crawford/Burris/Theriot trio.
Both are realistic possibilities for a team trying to win a World Series. Sabean should consider trading for a middle infielder as insurance for the return of Sanchez.
As we lead up to July 31st, teams will become sellers or buyers, and demand for players will rise and fall. Willingham and Lowrie should be on Sabean's radar, but then again, everyone should be on Sabean's radar this far from the trade deadline.