5 Second Basemen the Giants Should Target Before the Trade Deadline
Sitting atop the National League West by 7.5 games, the San Francisco Giants own the best record in baseball due to their solid starting rotation, lights-out bullpen and timely hitting.
The Giants have a much more complete team than they have had in recent years and do not need to make any blockbuster moves before the July 31 trade deadline.
There aren’t many holes in the Giants roster, but if you were to pick an area to improve it would be the production from the second-base position. Filling in for the 2012 World Series MVP, Marco Scutaro, Brandon Hicks is hitting below the Mendoza Line with a .183 average.
On the plus side, Hicks’ power has been a big surprise this year. He’s third on the club with eight home runs, including a three-run walk-off against the Cleveland Indians on April 27. However, with a .299 OBP and 63 strikeouts, he hasn’t done much at the plate besides hit the occasional long ball.
During their championship runs in 2010 and 2012, the Giants leaned on second basemen Freddy Sanchez and Scutaro to ignite rallies and score runs.
If the Giants were to make a move before the deadline, here are five second basemen to consider bringing over to San Francisco.
The Arizona Diamondbacks made a great move when they traded for Prado in January 2013.
Since he became a full-time starter in 2009, Prado has hit above .300 three times, including an All-Star Game appearance in 2010.
The Diamondbacks are 14 games out of first place and have one of the worst pitching staffs in the majors. Their starting rotation has become a disaster and might try to use Prado to acquire some young arms.
What makes Prado a tough piece to trade is the fact that he’s making $33 million from 2014 through 2016. The Giants do not have a history of absorbing those kinds of contracts, but if they see Prado as a good fit long term, they could trade for him.
If the Giants are looking at the cream of the crop among second basemen, they would see Daniel Murphy’s name. Murphy is putting up all-star-caliber numbers this year with a .305 average that includes five home runs and 25 RBI.
Murphy is eligible for arbitration after this season, but it remains unclear if the New York Mets will commit to him on a long-term deal.
The issue with Murphy is the Mets asking price may be too high for the Giants. However, if the Los Angeles Dodgers go shopping before the deadline, the Giants could counter with their own move and snag Murphy.
Before any of you Giants fans get too excited, note that Utley has a no-trade clause and could reject any trade under his current contract. If he waives the clause, San Francisco could be the new home for Utley.
The 35-year-old is hitting .318 on the year and ranks second in the majors with 24 doubles. More importantly, Utley has stayed healthy after struggling to do so over the past four seasons.
Obviously, the Philadelphia Phillies will have a huge asking price for Utley. In 2011 the Giants made the mistake of trading away their top pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, for a half-season of Carlos Beltran. I don’t see the Giants making that mistake again with the young arms of Kyle Crick or Chris Stratton.
The Phillies owe Utley $15 million this year and $10 million next year, along with three vesting options that begin in 2016. The Giants would be taking on a big contract, something general manager Brian Sabean has never been one to do.
However, the Dodgers could very well be in the mix for Utley too. If they are, the Giants might try to play keep away and land Utley.
The Chicago Cubs are 11.5 games out of first place and are sure to be sellers by the trade deadline. Emilio Bonifacio is making just $3.5 million in 2014 and is set to become a free agent after the season. He would be a great pickup for the Giants with his ability to play second base, third base, shortstop and outfield.
Bonifacio doesn’t put up huge numbers at the plate, but that’s OK. What Bonifacio does do is hit for a decent average, make contact and steal bags, three things that Brandon Hicks struggles with. He is hitting .268 with 13 stolen bags on the year, definitely an upgrade from Hicks.
Among the second basemen who will be available, Bonifacio would be one of the least expensive out there.
For the first time since 2007, Tampa Bay may be out of the AL East race by the All-Star break. What does this mean? They are sellers this year.
There might not be a single player in the majors who offers a club more flexibility than Zobrist does. He will have plenty of suitors leading up to the trade deadline, and the Giants should be one of them.
Zobrist can play virtually anywhere on the diamond besides pitcher and catcher, but he has spent most of his time at second base in 2014.
He may just be hitting .241 with five homers and 13 RBIs, but that’s going to happen when you have no protection in a lineup that ranks 27th in the majors. Stick Zobrist in the Giants’ lineup and he’d become a great two-hitter or bottom-of-the-order guy.
Bottom line is, Zobrist would give enormous flexibility both on the field and in the batting order.
Zobrist is owed $7 million this year with a $7.5 million club option for 2015, definitely a contract that the Giants could work with.