With the trade deadline right around the corner, the San Francisco Giants need help, and they need it fast.
Currently six games out of first place in the NL West, the Giants will need a serious shot in the arm if they are going to remain a contender in the division. Rumors abound about what San Francisco will look to do at the deadline, and—provided the Giants remain buyers—most of these rumors revolve around pitching.
This season it has been the arms, rather than the bats, that have doomed the Giants to a mediocre first half. Uncharacteristically, the rotation has been full of holes that an average Giants offense has been unable to make up for. Be it Barry Zito’s struggles on the road, Ryan Vogelsong’s injury or Tim Lincecum’s serial inconsistency, the starting staff has yet to settle in for the long haul.
And the problems don’t stop there.
The Giants bullpen has yet to find its stride, grappling with injury and inconsistency of its own. Most recently, San Francisco lost reliever Jeremy Affeldt to a strained left groin, further compounding its lack of reliable middle relievers.
Without Affeldt—and in a tough market for starting pitching—the Giants may have to look to the bullpen to make their moves at the deadline.
Until recently, rumors have been circulating that the Giants would look to go after a starting pitcher. Two weeks ago, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Giants were one of many teams interested in Astros starter Bud Norris. Norris holds a 3.91 ERA and is one of the hottest names on the market.
According to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area, the desire for starting pitching is there, but the trade chips may not be. Baggarly reports manager Bruce Bochy’s interest in White Sox starter Jake Peavy, who holds a 7-4 record with a 4.19 ERA. However, as of now, the two teams do not appear to have discussed a deal.
Several other teams have expressed interest in Peavy, and the Giants don’t have anything major to give away.
However, Lincecum’s contract has a no-trade clause that applies to eight teams. In an interview on KNBR Radio last week (as tweeted by the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman), Giants general manager Brian Sabean alluded to the fact that Lincecum would likely finish out the season in San Francisco.
Lincecum is in the final season of a two-year, $40.5 million contract, but he had been showing signs that his disappointing 2012 season may not be representative of the future. Lincecum recently no-hit the Padres, and he held a 4.26 ERA before Monday.
(Lincecum's resurgence took a step back Monday as the Cincinnati Reds chased the right-hander after 3.2 innings in his first start since his no-hitter, via CSN Bay Area. Lincecum surrendered nine hits, including three homers and eight earned runs.)
Without the bargaining chips to make a blockbuster deal, the Giants will keep their options open. One place San Francisco may look is former closer Brian Wilson, who is back on the table after his second Tommy John surgery. As reported by Henry Schulman, Sabean has requested that Wilson showcase his arm for the Giants as he reaches out to other teams that may be interested.
In making a trade, the Giants will have to figure out what they are willing to give up for this season. In a weak division, the NL West is still anyone’s game. But the Giants will have to make a move soon in order to keep it that way.