The floundering San Francisco Giants are ready to start selling under the management of new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, and will reportedly listen to offers for their veteran players.
There are still plenty of pieces remaining from the Giants’ dynasty years that could help a team with championship aspirations.
Let’s take stock of the vets San Francisco could move and where they might land.
Expected to go
Madison Bumgarner, SP
Ever since Zaidi came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bumgarner’s future has been top of mind. After entering this past winter open to the possibility of moving MadBum, reports surfaced suggesting the team was leaning toward keeping its veteran lefty until at least midseason, when the Giants could be out of contention.
Well, midseason has arrived early in the Bay Area with the Giants 8.5 games out in the NL West, and the 29-year-old left-hander has proven his worth to potential suitors.
Coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons, some buyer beware caution followed Bumgarner. But through nine starts in 2019, MadBum owns a respectable 3.88 ERA, a sterling 3.44 FIP, and he’s posting his best strikeout rate since 2016 – when the veteran finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting. His strikeout-minus-walk rate also ranks 16th in the majors among qualified starters.
His no-trade list, which reportedly contains only contenders, may complicate things. Players often use those lists to gain leverage in potential contract extension discussions, or to pick their desired landing spot.
The four-time All-Star is on an expiring deal, so he’ll likely only be a rental for a contender. Something similar to the Detroit Tigers’ return for David Price back in 2015 seems like a realistic goal for the Giants. The top prospect in that deal, Daniel Norris, hasn’t quite panned out, but Matthew Boyd is surprisingly blooming into an ace. Price was at his performance peak then, but MadBum’s penchant for postseason heroics still has value.
Potential suitors: Rays, Brewers, Yankees, Twins, Braves, Phillies, Red Sox, Cardinals, Mets, Astros, Angels, Indians, Padres
Will Smith, RP
Smith is an elite reliever set for free agency, making him the type of fungible asset that changes hands every trade deadline.
He’s a left-hander with closing experience, too, which could ramp up interest in the 29-year-old. His strikeout numbers have regressed a bit this season, but his 29.3 percent strikeout rate alongside a 6.9 percent walk rate is perfectly acceptable. That’s translating to success, as Smith owns a 2.87 ERA and 2.54 FIP through 15 2/3 innings.
Potential suitors: Twins, Red Sox, Indians, Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, D-Backs, Braves, Mets, Astros, Rays, Angels, Indians
Derek Holland, SP
Holland has been successful at times throughout his 11-year career and mediocre for stretches, resulting in a 77-77 record with a 4.50 ERA. The 32-year-old comes with one season of control left beyond 2019 if a team acquiring him picks up his $7-million option for 2020.
Any club interested in the left-hander won’t need to break the bank, and Holland’s recent well-publicized spat with the Giants’ front office over a supposed “fake injury” could lower his price further.
In terms of the market for Holland, Jaime Garcia seems like a realistic proxy. During the 2017 season, the left-hander was traded twice – once by the Atlanta Braves, and once by the Minnesota Twins – for middling prospects.
Potential suitors: Brewers, Twins, Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Phillies, Angels, Indians
Could be moved
Jeff Samardzija, SP
Samardzija is due $19.8 million next season, and he might not be worth moving if the Giants are forced to retain some of that hefty contract.
The 34-year-old right-hander is coming off a nightmare season when he posted a 6.25 ERA over 44 2/3 innings. The 2018 season was also the first time since 2012 that Samardzija didn’t reach the 200-inning plateau.
He’s bounced back nicely to start 2019, which could entice contenders looking for a reliable No. 3 for their rotation. The former All-Star owns a 3.51 ERA over eight starts so far this year.
Potential suitors: Rays, Brewers, Yankees, Twins, Braves, Mets, Phillies, Angels, Indians
Joe Panik, 2B
Panik plays a premium position and is only a couple of months away from hitting free agency.
Since breaking out in 2015, the 28-year-old second baseman has regressed, posting a .704 OPS over his next 402 games, which ranks 37th among 43 qualified players at his position over that span.
However, he’s still a reliable defender, and Panik might benefit from a change of scenery. A host of presumptive contenders could use a second baseman if those teams are willing to make it worthwhile for the Giants, an organization that may covet its Gold Glover.
Potential suitors: Rockies, Red Sox, Cubs, Nationals
Evan Longoria, 3B
The likelihood of the Giants finding an offer for Longoria rests with whether a team is willing to take on a sizable portion of his remaining contract. The 33-year old third baseman is due over $58 million beyond the 2019 season, $49.5 million of which is on San Francisco’s books.
Longoria isn’t the player he once was for the Tampa Bay Rays. Since joining the Giants, the three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner has authored an abysmal .241/.281/.416 slash line with 22 home runs and four stolen bases over 161 games.
There are very few contenders looking for a third baseman. The Giants would certainly like to move Longoria, but it will be tricky.
Potential suitors: Indians, Twins, Brewers
Buster Posey, C
Even if Posey is distantly removed from his unbelievable 2012 campaign, the lineup of potential suitors should include 29 teams.
Entering this year, the catcher has finished every season of his career as an above average hitter by wRC+. Now, as a 32-year-old, the former MVP and six-time All-Star is off to a slow start, hitting .245/.308/.406 with a pair of homers through 32 games. He’s also due more than $47 million over the next two seasons – and $66 million if his 2022 team option is exercised.
Of course, the Giants likely aren’t rushing to trade the player who has defined their franchise throughout the team’s most recent dynasty, especially as Posey continues to show unwavering support for the club. Still, if enough suitors come knocking, Zaidi may be forced to think it over.
Potential suitors: Mets, Indians, Rays, Rockies, Dodgers, Nationals
Brandon Belt, 1B
Belt is still under contract through 2021, so the Giants aren’t in a hurry to jettison their first baseman. He’s also affordable, plays an undervalued position, and possesses a skill set that doesn’t necessarily appeal widely to contenders. The 31-year-old could be difficult to move, and it might simply not make sense.
Typically, teams want sluggers at first base, but Belt isn’t that type of player. What he does well, though, is get on base. Since the beginning of 2016, Belt’s .366 OBP ranks comparably to Matt Carpenter, Rhys Hoskins, Cody Bellinger, Carlos Santana, and Edwin Encarnacion.
If the Giants are leaning into a rebuild, keeping talented players the fan base likes can be wise, and Belt could be that guy.
Potential suitors: Nationals, Rockies, Astros
Brandon Crawford, SS
Pretty much everything said about Belt can be reiterated for Crawford.
The 32-year-old shortstop is affordable, a fan favorite in San Francisco, and he could be a great piece to keep around during a rebuild. Also, very few contenders need a shortstop, even one as great defensively as Crawford.
He’s also looked absolutely lost at the plate to start 2019, which hurts Crawford’s trade value. The two-time All-Star is hitting .213/.296/.265 with one homer and one stolen base. It probably doesn’t make sense to part with him unless a contending team is dealing with an injury.
Potential suitors: Mets, Nationals, Braves, Indians