With the Giants enduring their roughest season in recent memory, executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean discussed the team’s deadline plans in an interview with Andrew Baggarly of the Bay Area News Group. Though a rebuild isn’t being contemplated, Sabean did acknowledge a need to “be lot more open minded to [possibly trading] more names than we have been in the past.”
To be sure, San Francisco will keep its inner core players. Sabean said it’s reasonable to presume, as has been suggested, that the team won’t be interested in entertaining offers for Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, and Brandon Crawford. (“Those three animals are divine,” he said.)
Otherwise, though, the veteran executive suggested that the club will at least consider moves involving the remainder of the roster. “I think needless to say, we’re open for business,” said Sabean, who also said that it’s “embarrassing” for the team to be performing so poorly while carrying such a large payroll.
While salary considerations will obviously play a role, it doesn’t seem as if the Giants are looking to pare down their future commitments above all else. Baggarly explains that the sense is the organization will prioritize the acquisition of near-MLB talent over far-off youngsters; “unless they get those kinds of players in return,” he writes, “they are not eager to pay down money just to get rid of core pieces” — a reference not to the holy trinity cited above, but to the club’s other veteran regulars.
That stance certainly could complicate matters. After all, as the club’s record would suggest, not many of the team’s expensive veterans are really playing up to their salaries. And, as ever, legitimate prospects who are ready to contribute at the major league level are generally harder to come by than those who are a few years off.
All said, the organization remains in a tricky spot with the deadline closing in. Among the costly veterans that aren’t considered untouchable, perhaps only Brandon Belt clearly brings surplus value when weighing his future salary guarantees. Second baseman Joe Panik would surely be of interest to rivals, but he’s also just the sort of sturdy, affordable option the Giants need to retain.
Those sorts of difficult tradeoffs are just as present in the pitching staff. Bumgarner is set to return, which will finally bump struggling veteran Matt Cain out of the rotation, as a report from NBC Sports Bay Area indicates. But the latter has not thrown well enough to be of real interest at the deadline. Plenty of teams would take a shot on Matt Moore, but would likely only do so for pennies on the conceptual dollar the Giants gave to get him last summer. While Jeff Samardzija has sparkling peripherals, his ERA remains inflated and the Giants no doubt envision him on their staff next year. Indeed, Sabean even says that he’d like to see Johnny Cueto pitching for San Francisco next year; his trade status is clouded by a pending opt-out clause.
More broadly, Sabean said “there’s a lot of soul searching going on” — particularly given that the team’s struggles stretch back into the second half of the 2016 season. Charting a path forward will obviously involve the upper reaches of the organization. While GM Bobby Evans has control of the day to day baseball ops decisionmaking process, Sabean indicated that he remains “responsible for the quality control throughout the organization” and will still “be involved in how we map this out.”