5 Potential Deals SF Giants GM Brian Sabean Should Propose at the Deadline
The San Francisco Giants are focused on a return trip to the World Series and their third world championship in the past five seasons.
The team is off to a good start in 2014, as new additions Tim Hudson, Michael Morse and Brandon Hicks have all contributed to the Giants' early-season success.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean deserves a lot of credit for identifying these players and acquiring them, along with his focus on retaining several of the team's own free agents or potential free agents.
In the Giants' previous two title runs, Sabean made some extremely valuable acquisitions around the trade deadline to bolster the team's roster.
In 2010, Cody Ross and Pat Burrell joined the team near the deadline and provided some much-needed offense. Ross came through when it mattered most, as he was the MVP of the NLCS.
Also in 2010, relievers Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez and Chris Ray all contributed. Lopez has turned out to be one of the best left-handed relief specialists in the game. In addition to 2010, Lopez was also a key reliever in the Giants' title run in 2012.
In 2012, Sabean's shrewd maneuvers around the trade deadline also helped the Giants immensely. His acquisition of Marco Scutaro for Charlie Culberson fueled the Giants' title run. Like Ross only two years earlier, Scutaro had a monster NLCS and was named MVP.
The Giants will likely want to make some moves this summer as well. In particular, the depth in the infield and outfield is very thin.
Outfielders Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez have hit very poorly, and Perez has been sent to the minors. Tyler Colvin, who was recently recalled from the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno, will get a chance to play a lot in left field.
The injury to Brandon Belt, who is likely to miss as many as eight weeks due to a broken thumb, means that Morse will move from left field to first base. Colvin has his opportunity, with Blanco remaining as a reserve outfielder.
In the infield, Brandon Hicks has done a credible job at second base replacing the injured Scutaro. Although hitting only .200 at the time this article was written, Hicks has seven home runs and 15 RBI. His OBP is a respectable .328, and his OPS is a solid .778.
Veteran utility player Joaquin Arias is a solid defensive player but has not hit the ball with any authority. He is currently batting just .161 with an OBP of .203 and OPS of .364.
These are abysmal numbers for Arias, but at least he is a solid veteran with a good track record. The Giants should see improvement from Arias if history comes anywhere near repeating itself.
The Giants' other utility infielder is Ehire Adrianza, who frankly does not belong in the major leagues. Adrianza rarely plays, and when he does, he has made far too many mistakes.
In addition to a weak batting average of only .171 and OBP of .189, Adrianza has made mistakes on the bases and defensively which have hurt the Giants.
Adrianza is out of minor league options, so the Giants risk losing him if they try to send him down. However, with manager Bruce Bochy having virtually no confidence in Adrianza, the Giants are essentially playing one man short.
Sabean must ultimately upgrade the bench, and he will need to take the risk of losing Adrianza to a waiver claim. Failure to move Adrianza off the Giants' 25-man roster will ultimately cost the San Francisco dearly. He is simply does not belong at the big league level at this stage of his career.
With the two main needs being utility roles in the infield and outfield, Sabean should attempt to bolster those areas.
When considering who the Giants might be able to acquire for a reasonable price, there are several considerations. The first issue is that any team that could possibly face the Giants in the NL playoffs is unlikely to do anything to help them.
The next concerns that Sabean must deal with revolve around cost. Contracts and what another team will demand from the Giants are major considerations.
Let's take a closer look at who might be available and how that player would fit into the Giants roster.
No. 5: Nyjer Morgan
The San Francisco Giants are hoping that Colvin can provide some offensive punch in the outfield. Colvin replaces the injured Brandon Belt on the Giants roster, with Morse moving to first base.
Colvin will get an excellent opportunity to prove he belongs in the majors, as the Giants' other reserve outfielders have not produced. Perez has already been optioned to Fresno, and Blanco has not taken advantage of his opportunities.
Blanco is currently hitting just .136 with six hits in 44 at-bats. Blanco possesses very good speed but has stolen only one base all year. His main contribution has been as a late-inning defensive replacement.
With Blanco struggling, Sabean will look to upgrade the outfield depth. Nyjer Morgan could be a good fit in San Francisco.
Morgan has always been a mercurial player, but when he's focused and engaged, he can be a solid asset to any roster. Currently, Morgan is playing in Cleveland and, with only 41 at-bats, is hitting a robust .341 with an OBP of .429 and OPS of .868.
Morgan is originally from the San Francisco area and would probably welcome an opportunity to play for a contending team in his hometown.
Defensively, Morgan utilizes his speed to cover a lot of ground in the outfield but does not have a strong arm. Blanco is superior in this area.
Sabean could probably get Morgan for a mid-level prospect. He is in the final year of his contract, making $875,000 this season.
If the Giants made the move to acquire Morgan prior to the trade deadline, they would be obligated to pay less than half of Morgan's salary. Morgan is cost-effective and would be a definite upgrade over Blanco.
No. 4: Cliff Pennington
Cliff Pennington can play both second base and shortstop. He is currently in his seventh year in the majors and will be 31 years old in June.
Pennington would provide a reliable veteran presence off the bench for the Giants. He is a proven utility player and would be a marked improvement over Adrianza.
Arizona already has Chris Owings and Aaron Hill at shortstop and second base, and Didi Gregorius is waiting in the wings. This makes Pennington expendable.
The Diamondbacks have suffered through injuries to their pitching staff, so Sabean could probably acquire Pennington for a solid pitching prospect.
No. 3: Tony Gwynn Jr.
Tony Gwynn Jr. is off to a very poor start in Philadelphia. By now, he is probably hoping for a trade, as the Phillies fans are most likely letting him know about it.
Gwynn is hitting just .185 with an OBP of .290 and OPS of .513. These numbers are all well below his career averages, so the Giants could expect improvement from Gwynn.
Sabean would likely be able to get Gwynn for a decent prospect, such as Gary Brown.
Gwynn would provide the Giants with speed off the bench and is more of an offensive threat than Blanco. Although Blanco is better defensively, Gwynn is a solid defender.
Gwynn is on a one-year, $900,000 contract. If Sabean were to acquire Gwynn near the trade deadline, the Giants would be responsible for roughly $400,000 of the salary. That's nothing in the grand scheme of things.
No. 2: Chase Utley
An ideal candidate to be acquired is second baseman Chase Utley. Although Sabean would need to get creative, it's a deal that makes sense for both the Giants and the Phillies.
Philadelphia is an aging team and kept the core unit together this winter for one final run. Unfortunately, the strategy has not worked, as Philadelphia is four games under .500 and last in the NL East.
It's time for the Phillies to rebuild their roster, which could benefit the Giants.
Utley is having a good year and has stayed healthy thus far. In 140 at-bats, Utley is hitting .343 with an OBP of .401 and OPS of .973.
While it is very unlikely for Utley to maintain those numbers, he is the consummate professional and would give the Giants an outstanding veteran presence.
In order to pry Utley away from Philadelphia, Sabean would likely need to offer Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. some good prospects.
A potential scenario could include Adrianza, catcher Andrew Susac and pitcher Clayton Blackburn. These are three highly rated prospects within the Giants organization.
The key for Sabean is how to address Utley's remaining salary. He is making $15 million this year, of which the Giants would be on the hook for roughly $7 million. In 2015, Utley is slated to make $10 million.
Giants management is unlikely to want to absorb that cost for an aging, injury-prone player like Utley. Therefore, in order to complete a deal of this nature, it would require a cash infusion from the Phillies.
If Amaro agreed to cover half of Utley's 2015 salary, this is a deal that can happen. Bringing in a player like Utley will significantly enhance the Giants' chances of winning.
No. 1: Alexi Amarista
Alexi Amarista would be an ideal fit for the Giants. He has experience playing in the infield and outfield and could play a super-utility role in San Francisco. He reminds me a lot of former Giant F.P. Santangelo.
Amarista is the type of versatile player who the Giants covet off their bench. Manager Bruce Bochy is a master at utilizing all of his players and would certainly be able to find opportunities for Amarista.
With his ability to play multiple positions, Amarista's versatility also saves a roster spot.
Amarista is not off to a great start, hitting only .188 with an OBP of .274 and OPS of .544. This could make him even more available.
Contractually, this is also a good move for the Giants. Amarista is making only $511,100 this year, and his contract expires at the end of the season. The Giants would be obligated to pay less than half of his salary.
The Padres need a lot of help in many areas, so Sabean could likely pry Amarista away. Adrianza or Gary Brown for Amarista just might be enough, as the alternative for the Padres is that they could end up with nothing.
Amarista is a professional and does not make a lot of mistakes. In addition, he is a pesky hitter and does the little things that can help a team win games. Amarista is the type of player who is better when playing on a good team.
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