With the trade deadline now just a few days away, teams are calling the Giants about their starting pitching, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. There’s nothing to indicate the club is motivated to move any of its starters, but it’s an interesting development nonetheless. Murray also lists the Giants as one of many clubs seeking bullpen upgrades.
The Giants are 56-47, just three games back of the Dodgers in the National League West and currently in possession of a Wild Card spot. That means they are more likely to do some buying than selling, but the interest in their starting pitching might be a function of the strange market this summer. Due to the expanded playoffs and some weak divisions, there are very few clearcut sellers. It’s been speculated that we may see more trades between contenders this year, such as yesterday’s deal that sent Amed Rosario to the Dodgers and Noah Syndergaard to the Guardians.
The Giants currently have a rotation that consists of Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Ross Stripling. Webb and Cobb each have ERA under 3.50. DeSclafani is at 4.88 but with a low strand rate of 64.8%, leading to a 4.38 FIP and 4.35 SIERA. Wood is struggling this year with a 4.75 ERA but has been much better in the past. Stripling struggled earlier in the year but has a 3.91 ERA since coming off the IL in late June.
Contractually, Webb signed an extension in April and isn’t going anywhere. But Wood is an impending free agent while Cobb is in the final guaranteed year of his deal, with a $10MM club option for 2024 with a $2MM buyout. DeSclafani and Stripling are under contract through 2024, with the latter having an opt-out opportunity at the end of this year.
That’s pushed Sean Manaea and Jakob Junis to long relief roles in the bullpen, both of whom have starting experience and would be good enough for rotation jobs on some clubs. Manaea has a 5.86 ERA this year but a 27.1% strikeout rate and 55.2% strand rate, leading to a 3.98 FIP and 3.74 SIERA. Junis is somewhat similar with a 4.79 ERA but 26.7% strikeout rate and .367 batting average on balls in play, leading to a 4.54 FIP and 3.37 SIERA. Junis is an impending free agent whereas Manaea can opt out of the one year left on his deal after this one.
On top of all those major league options, the club also has more starting pitching currently in Triple-A. Keaton Winn has a 4.47 ERA at Triple-A this year in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, as well as posting a 4.09 in his first 22 big league innings. Tristan Beck has a 4.32 ERA in Triple-A and 3.06 ERA in 50 major league innings. Sean Hjelle has a 7.79 ERA in the bigs this year but that’s likely skewed by a .434 BABIP and 51.9% strand rate, leading to a 4.03 FIP and 4.39 SIERA. Kyle Harrison is not yet on the 40-man roster but he’s one of the top pitching prospects in the league.
Given all of those options, and widespread interest in starting pitching around the league, it’s possible the club could line up a deal that sees them move a starter for help elsewhere on the roster. As Murray mentions, the club is looking for bullpen upgrades. Their relievers have a collective 3.75 ERA that’s one of the 10 best in the league, but just about every contender looks for additions to their relief mix at this time of year.
The Giants are also known to be looking for middle infield help, with Thairo Estrada having recently suffered a fractured bone in his hand. MLBTR’s Anthony Franco looked into some potential paths for them, which included some straightforward seller options like Paul DeJong of the Cardinals and Tim Anderson of the White Sox. Some of the infielders on contenders that could potentially be available are Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal of the Blue Jays, while the Orioles have Ramón Urías, Jorge Mateo and Adam Frazier. Both of those latter clubs are theoretical fits for starting pitching, which could perhaps lead to some interesting talks.
Again, there’s nothing to suggest the Giants are actively pursuing this line of thinking, as Murray only reports that other clubs are inquiring about their depth. But it’s a logical part of the Giants’ roster for them to use to improve elsewhere. The trade deadline is August 1.