San Francisco Giants Trade Rumors: Latest Updates and Reaction
The San Francisco Giants enter the final days before the trading deadline in a tenuous position. The Giants are the defending champions, but they're showing no signs of being legitimate contenders this season. They have the worst record in all of baseball since May 14.
The Giants were initially rumored to be buyers at the trading deadline; however, given the team's prolonged struggles over the last two months, they now appear more likely to stand pat or sell.
We'll keep you posted on all of the latest July happenings for the Giants right here, so check back for updates during the final days before the deadline.
Giants Will Reportedly Move Javier Lopez
As Wednesday's trade deadline approaches, the latest news out of San Francisco is that the Giants will likely move Javier Lopez and continue to listen to offers for Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum. Lopez, Pence and Lincecum will all be free agents at the end of the season.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Tuesday that, "The Giants will definitely move lefty reliever Javier Lopez, and the Indians have shown interest. And they are at least listening on righty Tim Lincecum and, particularly, right fielder Hunter Pence."
Lopez has been an integral part of two championship teams in San Francisco. He was a key addition at the 2010 trading deadline. He's posted a 2.23 ERA over four seasons with the Giants. This season, Lopez has put up a 1.42 ERA while holding lefties to a .172 batting average.
Pence and Lincecum appear less likely to be dealt given that the Giants can extend them both one-year qualifying offers after the season. If Pence and Lincecum accept those offers, the Giants would have both players back on one-year contracts for around $14 million. If they were to decline and sign elsewhere, the Giants would receive a compensation pick for each player between the first and second rounds of the draft.
General manager Brian Sabean indicated that standing pat at the deadline and offering the one-year tender to Pence and Lincecum in the offseason was the club's most likely course of action. Sabean told the radio affiliate KNBR last week (h/t Alex Pavlovic, San Jose Mercury News):
On balance, I'm more prepared to stand pat than expect anything else happening...I’ll speak openly because I have in the past about Lincecum and Pence, this compensation tied to them at the end of the year — we can offer them a conditional amount. If they turn it down the team that would sign them would have to give up a first round pick and we would get a pick. There’s some gamesmanship.
If the Giants aren't overwhelmed by the offers for Pence and Lincecum, it would seem likely that they'll both stay put at the deadline.
Giants Are Taking Calls on Pence, Others
The latest buzz surrounding the San Francisco Giants seems to indicate that the club is now open for business in advance of the trading deadline.
General manager Brian Sabean told the radio affiliate KNBR on Thursday that the club was "almost ready to turn the page on this season" (h/t Alex Pavlovic, San Jose Mercury News). After the Giants were swept in embarrassing fashion by scoring only three runs against the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, Sabean might now be completely ready to turn the page on 2013.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported on Sunday (subscription required) that the Giants are now taking calls on Hunter Pence and others. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported via Twitter that while the Giants want to keep Hunter Pence, they may ultimately deal him given the lack of offensive alternatives on the market.
Lastly, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported via Twitter that the Giants are seeking a major league ready starting pitcher in exchange for left-handed reliever Javier Lopez. It makes sense for the Giants to put a high-asking price on Lopez, who has a 1.42 ERA this year. Lefties are hitting just .172 off of him.
Based on the reports of Olney, Rosenthal and Passan, it sounds like the Giants will only move Pence or Lopez if they can get a legitimate package of talent in return. If they can't get what they want for those players, the Giants could go quietly at the deadline.
Sabean indicated that standing pat was the most likely course of action last week. He said, "On balance, I'm more prepared to stand pat than expect anything else happening."
The Giants certainly don't appear to be buyers. With the sixth-worst record in baseball, there wouldn't be much point in buying. However, the club will likely only deal Pence, Lopez and others if they can get excellent returns. If other teams don't meet their asking prices, the Giants could just go forward with the roster as it is currently constructed.
Giants More Open to Moving Pence?
Last week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates had interest in Hunter Pence, but the Giants weren't yet inclined to move him. However, as the Giants continue to fall further out of the race, their stance might be changing.
According to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area, the Giants aren't actively shopping Pence, but they're willing to listen now. Baggarly wrote,
There’s one week to go before the non-waiver trade deadline, and while the Giants are not shopping Pence, they’ll answer the phone – especially if a contender is willing to give up a controllable starting pitcher that they’d feel good about putting on the mound every fifth day.
After the Chicago Cubs received an impressive haul for impending free-agent pitcher Matt Garza, the Giants would be wise to take advantage of what appears to be a clear seller's market. With the advent of the second wild card last season, there are now more buyers than sellers given the lower bar for entry into the postseason.
While the Giants are still only 7.5 games out of first place, they're showing no signs of being able to turn things around. They've gone just 23-40 since May 14.
Thus, using Pence as trade bait to fix what has become the National League's worst rotation makes sense. If the Giants can get a young starter for him, they'd be wise to pull the trigger.
If they can't get a decent return for Pence, they can look into extending him beyond 2013. They can also use the one-year qualifying offer in the offseason to at least get a supplemental first-round pick as compensation if Pence signs elsewhere.
Hunter Pence Not Yet Available; Jake Peavy a Possibility for Giants?
As with impending free agent Tim Lincecum, the San Francisco Giants don't seem eager to move right fielder Hunter Pence. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, "Giants people are saying for them to consider trading Pence, 1) they'd have to be out of the race, and 2) they'd have to be overwhelmed."
The defending champions enter play on Saturday only 5.5 games out of first place in the NL West. Thus, they aren't out of the race yet. If the club does fall completely out of contention before the deadline, it makes sense that they'd need a lot in return to deal Pence.
The Giants might not contend in 2013, but Pence could be a part of their next winning team in 2014. The Giants could decide to use the final months of this season after the deadline to decide if Pence is deserving of a long-term contract.
They'll also have the leverage of the one-year qualifying offer this winter. If Pence were to decline the qualifying offer and sign elsewhere, the Giants would get a supplemental first-round pick for losing him. Thus, the Giants would need to recoup at least a first-round type of talent in return for Pence if they decided to deal him before the deadline.
In other news, Buster Olney of ESPN reported via Twitter that the Giants were in the conversation for Chicago White Sox starter Jake Peavy. Peavy threw six strong innings on Saturday in his first start back from a rib injury.
Peavy—who played for Giants manager Bruce Bochy in San Diego—is making $14.5 million this season and next.
General Manager Brian Sabean Shoots Down Lincecum Trade Rumors
Impending free agent Tim Lincecum isn't going anywhere at the deadline, according to San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean.
In a radio interview on Thursday, Sabean told KNBR, "I expect Timmy to be in a Giant uniform. I find it hard to believe he’ll pitch elsewhere this year....We need him to get back in this thing" (h/t John Shea, the San Francisco Chronicle).
Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com had reported earlier in the week that multiple teams were interested in acquiring Lincecum as a reliever. After Sabean's recent comments, it appears unlikely that Lincecum will be on the move.
Lincecum has struck out 24 hitters over his last two starts, which includes the no-hitter he threw against the Padres. Lincecum's 4.26 ERA ranks only 68th among 91 qualified starters, but he ranks 24th in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP).
Tim Lincecum Could Be Staying Put After No-Hitter
Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com reported that "some teams—the Tigers are one—have interest in acquiring Lincecum as a reliever for the stretch drive." However, Morosi writes that Lincecum's no-hitter against the Padres has likely made it more difficult for the Giants to entertain the idea of dealing him.
Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News wrote after the no-hitter that a trade involving Lincecum was always unlikely. Pavlovic wrote:
For all that has been said, the Giants haven’t received calls about Lincecum in the last month. Part of that, the Giants think, is probably because other teams have too much respect for the defending champions to call Brian Sabean and ask if he’s dismantling a team that paraded down Market Street just a few months ago...If the phone rings, don’t expect the Giants to talk too long, either. When I’ve asked about Lincecum, the answer is always that his unbelievable run in San Francisco is unlikely to end this soon.
The Giants are in a good position with Lincecum. He posted a 3.60 ERA in June, and has followed that up with a 2.53 ERA in three July starts—including the no-hitter.
If a team in need of a pitcher wanted to trade premium prospects for Lincecum, the Giants could re-consider whether or not to deal him. He's a fan favorite, but the Giants could sell such a trade to the fanbase because they made a long-term contract offer to Lincecum before last season that he rejected.
If the Giants decide to hold onto Lincecum through the end of the year, they'll get two and a half additional months to evaluate his future. If they choose to keep him beyond 2013, they can extend him the one-year qualifying offer.
If he accepted, they'd have him back for 2014 on a one-year deal well below the $22 million salary he made this year. If he rejected, they could still work out a long-term contract.
Lincecum's value would be diminished on the open market in that scenario because he'd be attached to draft-pick compensation. If he signed elsewhere, the Giants would at least get a first-round draft pick for losing him.
The Giants have leverage with Lincecum. They reportedly aren't inclined to deal him, but they certainly have every right to change their stance if the club falls further out of contention. If they do keep him through the end of the season, they'll have strong negotiating power in the offseason due to the qualifying offer that they can extend him.
Giants Lose Out on Ricky Nolasco
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reported that the Giants and Dodgers both made offers on Nolasco last week. According to Frisaro, the Giants wanted the Miami Marlins to assume a portion of Nolasco's contract. In the end, the Dodgers were willing to absorb the remaining money owed to Nolasco, and they got their man.
Nolasco certainly would have been an upgrade for the Giants. His 3.85 ERA would rank third in the San Francisco rotation behind Madison Bumgarner and Chad Gaudin. Nolasco would not have been able to save the Giants' season, however.
He's more of a No. 3 or No. 4 starter than a top-of-the-rotation arm. The Giants need more than a back-end starter to turn their season around. Additionally, Nolasco is a free agent at the end of the season, and the Giants need rotation help beyond 2013, as Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito are set to hit the market after the season.
Acquiring Nolasco would have helped, but the Giants were wise to save their resources for later in July. If the team starts playing better, they can use the money saved from not acquiring Nolasco to try to get more of an impact talent.
Could the Giants and White Sox Match Up on a Deal?
Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area wrote last week that he believes the Giants and White Sox could be a match at the trading deadline. Baggarly believes the Giants will look for players who can help beyond 2013.
According to Baggarly, "Alex Rios and Jake Peavy both fall into that category; they’re owed almost $27 million between the two of them next year. So, of all the names on the trade market, I can see the Giants trying to make a match there."
With 2013 looking like a lost cause for the Giants, acquiring players who can help in 2014 makes sense. The Giants could use the deadline and next offseason to gear up for another run at it next year if things don't turn around this season.
The Giants are almost certainly going to need another starter next year. Peavy could step right into the rotation behind Cain and Madison Bumgarner.
They also need an upgrade in left field. Andres Torres is hitting just .262/.307/.364 with two home runs. Rios would provide a substantial offensive upgrade on Torres.
Acquiring Rios and Peavy would allow the Giants to improve the roster for this year and next. If the rest of the team suddenly gets hot, Rios and Peavy could help the Giants get back into the race. If the Giants continue to struggle, they'll at least have two quality players in the fold for 2014.
Could the Giants Become Sellers?
The Giants have several players who would be coveted on the market if they decided to become sellers, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has suggested.
The Giants are just 17-32 over their past 49 games, so it would make sense for them to start thinking about acquiring talent for the future.
Javier Lopez, Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum are all slated for free agency after this season.
Lopez would be an excellent option for a team in need of left-handed relief help. He has a 1.77 ERA, and lefties are hitting just .180 against him this season.
Pence is in the midst of a brutal slump that has brought his slash line down to .266/.311/.456. If he gets hot again before the deadline, he could be the top power bat on the market. Even with his recent struggles, Pence still has 13 home runs and 22 doubles. He's also 13-for-13 on stolen base attempts.
Lincecum has struggled as a starter over the last two seasons, but he could be a dominant reliever if he'd be willing to accept another role change.
The Giants haven't given any indications they're going to sell. However, the team's performance on the field over the last two months speaks for itself. If they don't turn it around right away, selling at the deadline will make more and more sense.