Friday, June 17, 2016
Scouting the Midseason Trade Market: Overview
We are now well into the middle third of the season when some teams, may fans and almost all baseball writers start thinking about the midseason trades and the Trade Deadline. MLBTR recently posted their projected top 15 midseason trade targets. There are even a few nascent trade rumors starting to sprout up including some speculation about the Giants possible interest in trading for Ryan Braun.
While the Giants have some fairly obvious areas which could be upgraded at the trade deadline, they are far from being in a desperate situation with a 24-16 record since April 21, a 6.5 game lead in the NL West and the Dodgers players holding each other accountable in the dugout, the Giants can afford to be patient and wait for the right deal or deals.
Another factor to consider is there are not many teams who are completely out of contention for the postseason. A quick perusal of the MLB Standings shows there are just 3 teams who are 10 games or more behind in the Wild Card race and just 8 teams that are more than 5 games out. That could change between now and the trade deadline, but it's looking more and more like a fairly extreme seller's market. One example is the aforementioned Ryan Braun. Everybody seems to assume the Brewers can't wait to trade him and his contract so they can get on with their rebuild, but not so fast there. The Brewers are currently just 5 games behind in the Wild Card race and were playing pretty good ball before running into the Giants and AT&T Park. The Brewers have all kinds of reasons why they might not want to trade Ryan Braun, not the least of which is they are not out of the postseason picture by any means.
Turning to the Giants needs, were it not for the Giants tremendous starting pitching and almost as tremendous infield and catcher, the outfield would have been a full blow crisis. Pagan and Pence were in the DL, Blanco was in one of his black hole slumps and neither Jarrett Parker nor Mac Williamson showed they were ready to stand in the gap. That crisis has eased a bit with the return of Pagan and Blanco broke out of his slump against the Brewers. That is not to say the Giants couldn't use a RH OF bat with some pop, but it's no longer the desperate situation it was 3 or 4 days ago. Of course, we never know when Pagan is going to sproing his hammy again or when his spine will collapse in a pile of rubble, but yeah, it's not a current crisis. One more thought. While the market may open up a bit more as the trade deadline approaches, by that time Hunter Pence should be within a couple of weeks of returning, and do you really want to sell the farm system to fill a 2 week need? One more: While Pagan and Blanco may not fit your vision of corner OF's, all of the available better hitters are considerably worse defenders in the OF somewhat canceling out their upgrade potential.
Another obvious need is in the bullpen. This is an area where the Giants have historically made their best under-the-radar deadline pickups. Santiago Casilla has been shaky at closer at best while even Bruce Bochy has been unable to settle on roles for the 7'th and 8'th innings. The Giants could use an upgrade at closer, 8'th inning setup and lefty specialist. Again, the problem is a relative lack of sellers. The potentially available closers all have warts of their own. The Giants may be better off shopping for a setup arm, but the pickings are still mighty slim.
Finally, with Matt Cain seemingly unable to gain any traction before he gets injured again, the Giants could use another starting pitcher. Again, the choices for a clear upgrade are few and the prices are likely to be high.
We will look at each area of need in more detail in upcoming posts.