The Giants have drawn interest in their starting pitchers, and while ace Logan Webb rather clearly figures to be off the table in any discussions, San Francisco has a handful of shorter-term options that could make for more realistic trade possibilities. FanSided’s Robert Murray wrote last week that lefty Alex Wood could be an option to change hands, and Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark of The Athletic have now similarly mentioned the possibility of trading Wood or another bulk-innings option as a means of acquiring either middle infield help or prospect depth.
A free agent at season’s end, the 32-year-old Wood has voiced a preference to remain with the Giants (link via Evan Webeck of the San Jose Mercury News). However, he’s also made clear he wants to start games, and San Francisco has frequently used him as a bulk option behind an opener. Four of Wood’s past six appearances have come in relief of an opener. He hasn’t reached six innings in an appearance all season and hasn’t recorded an out in the sixth inning since May 26.
The Giants have been careful about limiting the number of times Wood faces opponents in a game, and with good reason. In 2022, when the lefty was deployed solely as a starter, he held opponents to a .241/.300/.344 batting line on the first trip through the order and a .256/.307/.399 slash the second time around. In the 95 plate appearances where Wood turned a lineup over for the third time, opponents exploded for a .326/.368/.573 batting line. He had similarly problematic splits in 2021, too.
Wood could certainly still be of interest to clubs seeking help at the back of the rotation, although he currently looks like something of a buy-low candidate and might need to be swapped out for an infielder in similar standing with his organization. The veteran southpaw has a pedestrian 4.75 ERA on the season, and his 18.8% strikeout rate, 11.2% walk rate, 43.6% ground-ball rate and 1.19 HR/9 mark have all gone in the wrong direction, relative to his 2021-22 output. Wood is pitching in the second season of a two-year, $25MM deal and will reach free agency again following the season. About $4.167MM of this year’s salary remains to be paid out.
San Francisco has other arms to peddle in similar scenarios. Right-hander Ross Stripling and lefty Sean Manaea are both in the first season of two-year deals that guarantee them the same $25MM promised to Wood. Both, however, can opt out at season’s end. Neither has pitched up to his career standards, but both have been considerably better after a tough start to the year. Since returning from the injured list in late June, Stripling carries a 3.64 ERA and a sensational 22-to-1 K/BB ratio in 29 1/3 innings. Manaea, since a full-time move to multi-inning relief work, has 4.03 ERA with a 29.2% strikeout rate against just a 5.9% walk rate. The recent trends are encouraging, but the Giants might still have a tough time extracting present-day value in a trade — and it’s quite possible one or both will forgo his opt-out opportunity at season’s end. That’ll depend largely on how the final two months play out.
It’s worth noting that since reports about interest in the Giants’ rotation depth first emerged, right-hander Anthony DeSclafani was placed on the injured list. An MRI revealed a Grade 1 flexor strain, and DeSclafani is expected to miss a “few weeks” with the injury, at the very least. That, coupled with his prior struggles leading up to the IL placement (21 runs in his past 23 1/3 innings), figures to all but remove him as a trade candidate.