It wasn't long ago when the San Francisco Giants were flying high, with a lineup they could be proud of, and held a spot at the top of the National League West.
Now the Giants are forced to play without some of their most significant players, including Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez, and currently sit half a game behind the surging Arizona Diamondbacks.
The MLB trade deadline isn't for another month or so, but that doesn't exclude the possibility that Giants will try to make a trade to fill a hole that has been created from an injury.
Even with the injuries to Buster Posey, Freddy Sanchez, Mark DeRosa, Barry Zito, Mike Fontenot, Darren Ford and Brandon Belt, the Giants still have plenty of options to choose from.
Ryan Vogelsong has filled in for Zito tremendously, and has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since his entrance. Another good sign is that Pablo Sandoval is now back and healthy and has the third base position locked up.
San Francisco also has plenty of good options in the outfield and won't need to upgrade there just yet. The two main positions the Giants do desperately need help in is at catcher and shortstop.
Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart are just not getting it done offensively, leaving a significant hole in the Giants lineup each and every game.
Miguel Tejada has been on and off the entire year, but mostly off, which screams time for change at shortstop. Even though Brandon Crawford is a beast defensively, he still lacks offensive pop.
Jose Reyes is still the biggest name on the Giants' radar, and he is definitely not out of the question like some may think.
The main reason why Reyes has been considered off the market lately is because the New York Mets have been playing well, so they might be buyers at the deadline rather than sellers.
Still, the Mets remain fourth in their own division and sit three games under .500.
It's really too tough to say whether they will be buyers or sellers, because although they aren't completely out of it, I can't imagine them overtaking the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, let alone the Philadelphia Phillies.
- I don't see this as a very likely trade option—maybe more of a fantasy—but it's still an option, at least for now.
J.J. Hardy has been surprisingly good at shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles this season, and may be another decent option for the Giants at that position.
Baltimore will certainly try to talk extension with Hardy before the trade deadline, so he may be off the board sooner than later. If he doesn't sign an extension, it's very possible the Giants try to jump at the opportunity and inquire about him.
Hardy currently has .301 average, 25 runs, 9 home runs and 25 RBIs, which is obviously better than the sub .225 average of both Tejada and Crawford.
- Again, I don't see this trade as very likely, but not for the same reason as Reyes. Hardy is having a great year so if the Orioles offer him good money, he will likely take it.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez has been on the Giants' radar ever since the injury to Buster Posey.
The Nationals are playing great baseball right now, and Pudge isn't even the starting catcher. Wilson Ramos is now the main guy in Washington, which is why Pudge shouldn't be too hard to acquire.
Pudge doesn't have great numbers in his 98 at-bats this season, but he's great defensively and he still has some pop in his bat. He might not be at the top of the Giants' wish list, but he can be counted on whenever he puts on a uniform.
- I think this is one of the better options for the Giants, mostly because there aren't a plethora of good catchers on the market right now. Since he'll be easy enough to acquire, I think it's likely the Giants make a stab for him at some point.
George Kottaras is another backup catcher who would be a decent option for the Giants.
He currently sits behind Jonathan Lucroy for the Milwaukee Brewers, and only has 31 at-bats this season. The good news is that in those appearances he's hitting .290 with 2 home runs and 7 RBIs.
- The Brewers have said that Kottaras is available, so he's definitely a viable option and a good one at that. Pretty much all of the catchers the Giants have on their radar are realistic acquisitions, so I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him in San Francisco by the trade deadline.
A very interesting option for the Giants at second base is Mark Ellis. Even though he has been the starting second baseman for the Oakland A's for nearly a decade, he has lost his spot with the emergence of Jemile Weeks.
Although this doesn't help the Giants at shortstop—a bigger need than second base—it still helps them as a team.
Ellis is outstanding defensively, and anyone who plays second right now has the capability of playing shortstop as well. Essentially it just adds yet another infielder to throw into the mix every day.
- I wouldn't normally think this is very likely to happen, but the Giants have admitted to having serious, internal talks with A's about acquiring Ellis, so it's apparently just as likely as anything else.
The five options listed previously I consider to be the most likely players that the Giants acquire, and the ones that best fit their needs.
With that said, there are plenty of other routes the Giants could take, if they don't get any of their top choices.
- Mike Napoli of the Texas Rangers has been playing well, but currently backs up Yorvit Torrealba, which makes him a decent option. The problem is that he is currently on the disabled list, so it would be unlikely for anyone to trade for him.
- Jamey Carroll, a middle infielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been in trade talks as of late. He is therefore an "option" for the Giants, although I think they are much better suited leaving him with Los Angeles.
- Max Ramirez was signed earlier this week to catch for the Giants in Triple-A. I don't consider him to be any better than Stewart or Whiteside, but he may get a shot at the majors if he performs well in Fresno.
- Hector Sanchez, an internal prospect, was recently promoted from Single-A to Triple-A to catch in Fresno. It is likely that if the Giants don't trade for anyone, Sanchez will eventually replace Stewart as the backup catcher.