It's the end of July, which means Brian Sabean can work his magic once again. The San Francisco Giants general manager has shown his ability to turn fringe playoff-contending teams into World Series winners, and he'll now be asked to do it once again on the final day of the non-waiver trade deadline.
But what's in store for the Giants, a team with holes that need filling but few viable trade pieces to fill those holes? Sabean already dipped into the organization's thin farm system to acquire right-hander Jake Peavy, and he'll be looking to bring in at least one more player by the Thursday deadline, according to the San Jose Mercury News' Alex Pavlovic. Let's take a look at the options.
The Giants roster is full of holes, but second base is the most gaping.
The Dan Uggla experiment has proved to be an unmitigated disaster, with his 0-for-11 performance and error-filled play. Joe Panik, though solid at times, has been decidedly below average and inconsistent with his .282 OBP. Marco Scutaro, the team's would-be starter, has suffered through recurring back issues and likely won't be available as a regular for the rest of the season.
Cabrera, the longtime Indians shortstop, is going through a bit of a down year offensively, but he could bring some stability to the second base position, and his defense might even improve a bit by shifting over to the "easier" middle infield position.
Beckham is a career .246 hitter who has spent his entire six-year career with the White Sox. He's hitting .225 with a .271 OBP this season, but he'd likely come at a low cost both in terms of what the Giants would have to give up and how much the team would have to pay him (Beckham is arbitration eligible next season, and he doesn't stand to make a fortune given his poor numbers this year.). Should the Giants go that route, it would be a classic case of buying low.
The Giants' other potential second base acquisition, Ben Zobrist, is still a viable option as well. According to Morosi, the Giants are "ready to act" on the Tampa Bay utilityman, but it's another matter entirely if the Rays actually decide to make him available. Put this one lower on the Giants' list of likely deals, but it's still a very real possibility given the Rays' expressed interest in the Giants farm system—or what's left of it.
The Giants have a strong starting outfield of Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan and Michael Morse when everyone is healthy, but they're still reportedly looking at other options. According to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo, Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia is drawing interest from the Giants, though it's unclear how likely that pickup would be.
Even less clear is how much of an upgrade Denorfia would be over the Giants' current backup options. Though Gregor Blanco hasn't been stellar, Denorfia's .242/.293/.319 slash line would be a downgrade from Blanco's .245/.321/.315 mark, and the Padres might not be interested in selling Denorfia with his value so low anyway.
There's also the issue of just how much the team needs another outfielder, especially with the more pressing need at second base. Brandon Belt is nearing his return (which will allow Morse to stay in the outfield, though Andrew Susac's call-up ensures that anyway with Buster Posey shifting to first base), and Angel Pagan isn't far behind. It comes down to whether the Giants need five outfielders on the roster, and when everyone is healthy, four outfielders might be enough.
It appears that Pagan might rejoin the team on Tuesday in Milwaukee, according to the Chronicle's Henry Schulman. With four healthy outfielders and Brandon Belt presumably back by then, plus the issue of the Giants' lack of prospects to sell, the chances of acquiring an outfielder don't look great.