San Francisco Giants Trade Grades: Analyzing Every Deadline Move and Non-Move
Brian Sabean and the San Francisco Giants were very active at the trade deadline this year.
The defending World Champions made a big splash by acquiring Carlos Beltran, the most prized player on the market.
The team also made some significant non-moves, most notably not acquiring a veteran catcher to replace injured star Buster Posey.
Here are grades for every move and non-move the Giants made at this year's trade deadline.
The San Francisco Giants got Jeff Keppinger for a great value, but his addition may not help as much as the team initially hoped.
Minor league relievers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel are not losses the organization will bemoan—with such a strong major league bullpen already, San Francisco can shed some of its relief prospects without worry.
Keppinger was hitting .307 with Houston, but his recent track record suggests that kind of success is unsustainable.
The utility infielder has recorded at least 300 at-bats in each of the past three seasons, hitting .266, .256 and .288. His highest batting average in a season occurred in 2007, when he hit .332 for Cincinnati over just 67 games.
Keppinger could end up being a solid option for the Giants at second base in Freddy Sanchez's absence. Or he could be the second coming of Mike Fontenot, a player best used coming off the bench.
Whether San Francisco made the right move acquiring Orlando Cabrera or not depends almost entirely on how outfield prospect Thomas Neal pans out.
The Giants know what they're getting with Cabrera. The 36-year-old shortstop is an established veteran and a positive force in the clubhouse who has a habit of being on teams that win division titles.
Cabrera is currently hitting .244/.277/.321 and is in the middle of the worst statistical year of his career. His range defensively has decreased slightly, but he is still a better option than Mike Fontenot, Jeff Keppinger or Manny Burriss.
Outfielder Thomas Neal was doing pretty well in Fresno, hitting .295 with 13 doubles. Right now he doesn't project as a top starting outfielder, as he doesn't have strong power (just two homers on the year) or elite speed (7-for-13 on steal attempts).
The best part of this deal is Cabrera's presence allows Brandon Crawford much needed time in Triple-A, which will only make him better next year.
Carlos Beltran has underwhelmed in his first five games for the San Francisco Giants, but he'll get back on track soon enough.
Trading top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler appears to be a steep price to pay, but upon further inspection the deal is not so bad.
Wheeler has posted a 3.99 ERA through 88 innings pitched this year in High-A San Jose. He has a very imposing 10.0 K/9, but a much less impressive 4.8 BB/9 and a solid-but-unspectacular 2.09 SO:BB ratio.
In Low-A Augusta last year, Wheeler struggled with a 5.8 BB/9, an appallingly high figure. He has shown improvement this year, but not enough given his age.
Consider that a 19-year-old Madison Bumgarner breezed through San Jose, posting a 1.48 ERA with a 5.75 SO:BB ratio. Not every pitcher should be held to this standard, but it is worthwhile to note that numbers like these can be attained at this level.
If Wheeler is not even doing half as well as Bumgarner did with over a year more minor league experience, then maybe he isn't as good as everybody thinks.
On the other hand, Beltran is a surefire impact acquisition who instantly makes the offense much stronger.
Not Trading for a Catcher
Eli Whiteside is no Buster Posey, but he and Chris Stewart will do just fine for the San Francisco Giants the rest of the season.
Having Buster Posey was an incredible luxury—the 2010 rookie of the year was a productive hitter from a typically weak offensive position.
The drop off to Whiteside and Stewart seems so dramatic mostly because of how good Posey is in comparison.
Acquiring a catcher would be a waste of a prospect. It would have to be a veteran rental, since Posey will presumably resume his spot behind the dish at the start of next season.
Most importantly, the improvement would not be that noticeable. Whiteside and Stewart play fine defense, so the upgrade would be mostly offensive. But most teams play just fine with poor-hitting catchers.
San Francisco was smart to upgrade its outfield and middle infield instead, two positions where they got much more bang for their buck.
Holding on to Jonathan Sanchez
Given that the San Francisco Giants now have six starting pitchers, there was a lot of speculation that Jonathan Sanchez might be traded, as he is currently the team's odd man out.
However, Brian Sabean was smart to hold on to the 28-year-old lefty. Trading him now would make no sense, as his value has fallen precipitously since his no-hitter in 2009.
Sanchez has much better value as the sixth starter, especially now that Barry Zito has resumed his customary spot as the dud of the rotation.
Zito is now headed to the DL with a mysterious ligament injury that is purportedly a recurrence of the foot sprain he suffered earlier this year. The move was made to free up a spot for Sanchez.
Neither lefty inspires much confidence—both are head cases who walk too many batters. But at least the team has the option of both pitchers in case one of them struggles.
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