San Francisco Giants: Trades That Could Take the Team to the Next Level

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San Francisco Giants: Trades That Could Take the Team to the Next Level
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

   To make a playoff push or rebuild : That  is the unfortunate questionfacing  Giants  ' general managerBrian Sabean  .

What is the "next level " for a still  -struggling  San Francisco franchise ?The same franchise that won a World Series trophy just last season , and with the same faces , no less  ?

This  offseason   , the defending champs opted to maintain the same lineup that made them champions . Yes , there were holes and needs that could have been filled , such as a thin outfield and lack of depth off of the bench . But these were areas of improvement that were not un  -fixable and insurmountable .

However , with the loss of center fielder Angel Pagan to injury , the already thin outfield became thinner . Unexpected problems arose with the starting rotation and even extended to the bullpen . Nobody could have predicted the difficulties staff ace Matt Cain (5 -6 , 5 .06 ERA , 16 HR allowed in 19 games ) would face . Cain is not the only member of the rotation undergoing a less  -than -stellar  season ; in fact , only left -hander Madison Bumgarner  (10 -5 , 3 .02 ERA ) was deemed  worthy of the  All -Star  Game  by NL and Giants ' manager Bruce Bochy  .

What the Giants need is stability in the lineup and consistency from the pitching staff . How do we get there ?

Let 's make a trade .

Assuming the   "next level " for the Giants means making a playoff push , the team has few bargaining chips in their farm system for Sabean to move around .While Sabeanhas proven his willingness to trade away potential star talent in the minors for proven star power  (the Zack  Wheeler -Carlos Beltran trade circa 2011 ) , his Giants have been in a clearer position to make a playoff run than they  are currently . At 43 -51 , the glimmer of last season is the only hope keeping the Giants on the playoff track in 2013 .

First and foremost , the Giants need to add a solid starter to the rotation . Even if Cain turns his season around , and  Tim Lincecum  impresses just as he did in his no -hitter against the  San Diego Padres  , the Giants still have too many question marks and not enough certainties . Barry Zito 's lights -out run in the 2012 playoffs is steadily becoming a distant memory , and Ryan Vogelsong never found his groove before injury took him out of the equation completely .

Pitching wins championships , as the Giants illustrated in 2010 and 2012 . Starting pitchers in the trade market currently include Matt Garza of the  Chicago Cubs andBud Norris of the  Houston Astros  . However , the asking prices for both Norris and Garza  appear  to be steep   perhaps too steep for Sabean and the Giants .

According to   Jon Heyman  of CBS Sports   :

The  Astros have sought two top prospects back in trade [for Norris ] , according to rival GMs  . That sounds like a lot , but considering the scarcity of starters available in a deep sellers ' market , it may not be quite as unreasonable an asking price as one might imagine . . .Norris , who is 6 -8 with a 3 .63 ERA , fits somewhere into the upper echelon of available starters with Matt Garza and Yovani Gallardo  , and he might look enticing to a contender , especially if top starters such as Cliff Lee remain unavailable .

 

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
 

Luckily for the Giants , Norris is a Bay Area native . Like Carlos Beltran before him , Norris has expressed an active interest in being traded to the Giants .

If the Giants define "next level " as making a playoff push now , they need to be more aggressive in pursuing an available starting pitcher . However , if they are looking to rebuild for the future , parting with top talent within their farm system for a middle -of -the -road starter is simply not an option .

On the bullpen front , the return of Santiago Casilla will give Bochy more options andmatchup  combinations in the later innings . In order to make a legitimate run toward the playoffs , the Giants will need their bullpen to hunker down  From  SFGate 's Henry Schulman  :

Meanwhile   , it &rsquo ;s worth noting that rookie Jake Dunning is here and Jean Machi was sent down . We all know the Giants love their veterans , pitchers and hitters . The decision to keep Dunning reflects how much the organization likes what he has done here . I &rsquo ;m not just talking numbers , but with fortitude . They have stuck Dunning into some tough situations .

 

Meanwhile , recent Giants ' acquisition Jeff Francoeur , a nine -year veteran outfielder, was recently promoted to the big leagues . Francoeur will initially platoon against left -handed starters , according to  Chris Haft  of  MLB .com  .

The Francoeur deal does not necessarily fit into the "blockbuster trade " category , but a veteran presence could help bolster an outfield in need of help .

The first half of the 2013 season has been filled with disappointment and unexpected struggles . However , with a little bit of rest and perhaps a few new faces , the Giants could rise to the next level .

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