So … with the Giants now within 2.5 games of a Wild Card spot after winning twelve of their past fourteen games, should they halt a long-anticipated summer sell-off? There’s obvious appeal to making a push with a veteran-laden team, but also no small amount of risk in foregoing an opportune and much-needed chip-cashing opportunity on the trade market.
It’s awfully hard to pull the rug out from under a team that was built to win. The ballclub was constructed for contention by the prior front office regime, but seemed badly in need of a reset after two-straight miserable campaigns. Maybe it has taken longer than hoped, and hasn’t quite happened in the manner anticipated, but perhaps we’re finally seeing the fruit of the labors of deposed GM Bobby Evans.
There are some signs of recently improved play from the roster. Over the past thirty days, Giants hitters have paced the majors with 162 runs scored while producing a collective 111 wRC+ (11th in baseball). In that same span, the pitching staff has been a top-ten unit by measure of fWAR. The Giants’ very good and judiciously deployed bullpen has led all of baseball in net win-percentage added this season, which helps explain how the team has strongly outperformed win expectations based upon Pythagorean (+3) or BaseRuns (+6) evaluation. Perhaps there’s some magic yet in a dugout commanded for one final time by Bruce Bochy.
On the other hand, it’s easy to get carried away with recency bias. There really isn’t much evidence of underlying changes in the talent level on the roster that would suggest this is a much better ballclub than its 47-49 record would suggest. There are still five teams ahead of the Giants in the Wild Card picture, many of which also have legitimate chances at winning their divisions and will be improving at the deadline. The Giants have no hope of catching the Dodgers in the NL West and don’t appear situated to make notable additions, even if they do hold existing veterans. Fangraphs’ playoff odds calculator still places the Giants as the second-to-least likely team in the National League to appear in the playoffs.
Plus, the San Francisco farm system — despite making some improvements of late — could clearly stand to be supplemented. We’ve been talking for months about the increasingly appealing set of trade pieces the Giants can bring to the market this summer. Our recent ranking of the top sixty deadline assets is littered with San Francisco roster members. In particular, the Giants possess many of the top pure rental players and all but control the bullpen market. They could also have some chances at moving big contracts to help free the near-future books.
All things considered, it’s a tough test for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who’ll either have to sell the selling to the fanbase or risk hampering the rebuilding effort. What do you think he ought to do? (Poll link for app users.)