5 Trades the San Francisco Giants Can Make Without Depleting the System
The San Francisco Giants have an anemic offense that needs improvement if they wish to repeat as World Series Champions, but they want to jolt their lineup without parting with their top prospects.
According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, the Giants would rather acquire short-term hitting talent with their wallets, instead of mortgaging their future by trading away their good, upcoming farm players.
The Giants seem content with their world-class pitching staff, which leads the National League with a 3.06 ERA, but would probably more than welcome an opportunity to improve their offense. The Giants are 15th in the National League in runs scored and have just a .240 team batting average.
If the Giants want to repeat as champions, they probably will have to make a move as the trade deadline approaches. Here are five possible trades the Giants can make without depleting the system.
Note: Some players listed have already been traded to the Giants, but their slides were written before the trades happened.
1. Carlos Beltran
The Giants were thought to be slowly fading away from the Beltran sweepstakes, but recent reports suggest otherwise.
Although Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated wrote via Twitter that the Mets want top prospects, notably the Giants' minor league pitcher Zack Wheeler, in exchange for Beltran, he also tweeted that the Mets' asking price could go down. Since Beltran will be a free agent next season, and the team who has him after July 31 would not receive a draft pick to compensate for its loss if Beltran were to sign with another team this offseason, the Mets might have to settle for less in return.
ESPN's Jayson Stark recently wrote about how National League executives theorize why Beltran will end up in San Francisco.
"They believe that all the current talk that the Phillies and Red Sox are either the favorites or the 'most aggressive' teams in the Beltran bidding is being circulated by the Mets to increase pressure on other teams in the bidding," Stark wrote. "Their theory: The Giants wind up swooping in and getting this done, for a package fronted by dynamic center-field prospect Gary Brown."
Whether or not freeing up salary, instead of depleting the farm system, would be the deal breaker for the Mets remains to be seen. If so, the Giants will have an excellent opportunity to acquire Beltran since the Giants have said they could adjust their payroll if needed.
Update: Carlos Beltran was traded to the Giants last Wednesday for minor league pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.
2. Ramon Hernandez
With Buster Posey's season-ending injury, the Giants might need some reinforcement behind the plate.
According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants are interested in the Cincinnati Reds' catcher Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez earns $3 million this year and could be available in a deal, with Reds' backup Ryan Hanigan or AAA prospect Devin Mesoraco filling in the Reds catching void if Hernandez is traded.
Since the Reds would be looking to clear salary and a roster spot, similar to Bengie Molina's deal last year that allowed Posey to step in as the everyday catcher, Hernandez could be had for a small price.
Last year, the Giants obtained relief pitcher Chris Ray from the Rangers in exchange for Bengie Molina. The Giants could make a similar deal with one of their minor league pitchers.
The difficult part about getting this deal done is Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said his team is not looking to sell on the July 31 trade deadline. Whether or not that stance holds up remains to be seen.
3. Rafael Furcal
With the financial woes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, they could unload Rafael Furcal to shed payroll.
According to Matthew Pouliot of NBC Sports, the Giants have eyed Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who could be a big upgrade over Miguel Tejada, Mike Fontenot and Brandon Crawford. Furcal is owed $5 million, and the Giants could take on more payroll rather than depleting their farm system to obtain him.
The Giants are in need of an upgrade at shortstop. San Francisco is hitting a combined .208 at that position, with just a .274 on-base percentage and a .305 slugging percentage.
Furcal is not tearing it up offensively, but he has only played in 37 games this season due to injury. He is hitting .197 but may benefit from a change of scenery.
Furcal might be worth the risk for the Giants. He probably can be had for a low price—cash considerations and maybe a low-end prospect, since the Dodgers would probably look to move him to shed payroll.
Pouliot also wrote that Furcal should clear waivers, due to the $5 million owed, making him a possibility for an August deal.
The problem is the Dodgers might be reluctant to trade within the division, especially with their rivals. However, the two clubs did make a trade with each other in 2007, a trade that sent Mark Sweeney to Los Angeles.
Update: It appears this trade will never have a chance of happening, as Furcal may be heading to the Cardinals, pending his acceptance of the trade (he has a no-trade clause in his contract).
4. Orlando Cabrera
Another shortstop who was available at the trade deadline was Indians shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
With the emergence of Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, Orlando Cabrera became expendable for Cleveland. Cabrera is having a poor season offensively in 2011, hitting just .244 with three home runs and a .277 on-base percentage.
Still, Cabrera might be able to contribute to the Giants. Chris Haft of MLB.com noted that, "Cabrera also has participated in six of the past seven postseasons with Boston (2004), the Los Angeles Angels (2005, 2007), the Chicago White Sox (2008), Minnesota (2009) and Cincinnati (2010)."
With the injury to Miguel Tejada, the Giants do not have a right-handed shortstop option off the bench. Him coming to the Giants would add much-needed depth, along with another experienced stick in the lineup.
Update: Orlando Cabrera was traded to the Giants on Saturday for minor league outfielder Thomas Neal. Cabrera will be the Giants' primary shortstop, according to Haft.
Cabrera has played in 1,807 career games at shortstop, but has been playing second base for most of 2011.
5. Michael Bourn
With the struggles of Andres Torres this season, the Giants might want to look for another speedy center-fielder.
The Giants have seemed to do just that. According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Giants are interested in acquiring Bourn. Bourn could be the spark plug that Torres was not.
Bourn is hitting .304, with 39 stolen bases and a .364 on-base percentage. He has also hit 26 doubles and seven triples in 104 games.
The Giants could use table setters at the top of the order for Beltran and Sandoval. The Giants as a team have a hard time getting on base, and Bourn could adequately help them in that department.
The problem for the Giants is the Astros want major league-ready prospects in exchange for Bourn, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com. The Astros are heading nowhere and looking to rebuild, but the Giants might be able to sell one of their minor league prospects to them—although with Wheeler gone, their minor league pitching depth is not as strong.
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