The Giants have quietly posted a respectable 15-10 record over their last 25 games, and have moved to 5.5 games behind the Phillies for the last NL wild card slot. While San Francisco is still ahead of only the Mets and Marlins in the overall National League standings, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle) that he “wouldn’t rule out” being a deadline buyer. “I still think there could be opportunities for us to trade away younger players for guys who can help us now….I think the most important thing for us in this period is to maintain flexibility and our own open-mindedness over what makes the most sense as we get close to that July 31 deadline,” Zaidi said.
Needless to say, this would be rather a surprising turn of events given that speculation has swirled for months that the Giants would look to unload some of their veteran players. Still, while Zaidi’s comments could simply be construed as a negotiating tactic, the fact remains that with over three weeks until the deadline, the Giants are at least technically close enough that the front office is open to options.
Even when it comes to potentially being sellers, Zaidi noted “we don’t feel like we have to do anything, or there are X numbers of things we have to accomplish by July 31. When you put yourself in that position you create unnecessary pressure and panic to do something that is not in your long-term interest. Like every other team out there we’re in an evaluation period.”
It should be noted that Zaidi’s stance about the Giants’ shorter-term plans hasn’t much changed since he took their front office job last November. Both he and club ownership have expressed a desire to get San Francisco back into contention as quickly as possible, and while both sides have said they’re open to a rebuild if necessary, they also haven’t really committed to such a plan. Having to leapfrog at least eight teams just to grab a wild card berth doesn’t exactly scream full-fledged “contention,” though given the amount of parity in the National League this season, it could be the Giants see a genuine opportunity to make a run if they keep playing well and at least a few other clubs fall by the wayside in July.
The Giants’ best trade chips are well-known — pending free agents Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Pablo Sandoval, and (via a player option that seems a lock to be declined) Tony Watson. Sam Dyson is controlled through 2020 via arbitration, but could also draw a lot of attention come the deadline. If the Giants are actually within striking distance of a wild card in late July, Zaidi could try to thread the needle and be both a buyer and a seller at the deadline, dealing one or more of the expiring contracts while also acquiring another short-term asset to help the 2019 squad.