The Giants are known to be busy exploring upgrades on the pitching and lineup fronts as the trade deadline approaches, with such names as Starling Marte and Danny Duffy known to be of interest to the NL West leaders. As to what San Francisco is willing to give up in a potential trade, one of the game’s top prospects might be somewhat available, as Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle writes that “among the team’s most high-profile minor-leaguers, catcher Joey Bart is the most likely player to be available.”
It’s worth noting that this falls well short of the Giants actually dangling Bart in trade talks, nor does it indicate that the club has any particular inclination to move Bart. But, in a trade market where it has become increasingly rare to see blue chip prospects moved in any sort of deal (particularly at the deadline), it is certainly noteworthy that such a highly-touted minor leaguer could be available at all for the right price.
Marco Luciano, Heliot Ramos, and Bart are only the Giants prospects on all of the current top 100 prospect rankings for MLB Pipeline, Fangraphs, and Baseball America, while outfielder Luis Matos appears on the Fangraphs and BA lists. At 24, Bart is the oldest of this group, and the only one to have reached the big leagues, posting a .612 OPS over 117 plate appearances in the last two seasons. Thanks to the canceled 2020 minor league campaign, Bart was promoted to the Show without any Triple-A experience and barely even any Double-A experience, but has been mashing Triple-A pitching this year.
In short, Bart likely hasn’t done anything to have lowered his stock in the eyes of the Giants front office. However, San Francisco’s catching situation has been altered by two factors — Buster Posey’s re-emergence as a star, and the club’s selection of Patrick Bailey with the 13th overall pick in the 2020 draft. It now seems at least plausible that the Giants could exercise their $22MM club option on Posey for the 2022 season, or the Giants could perhaps work out a multi-year extension with the longtime face of the franchise. That could make Posey into a bridge to Bailey as the catcher of the future, leaving Bart somewhat expendable.
Needless to say, the Giants wouldn’t move Bart in just any trade. It is very safe to say that Bart wouldn’t be moved for a rental player, or perhaps even a player only controlled through 2022. But, he stands out as a major trade chip to aid the team in acquiring players who are under longer-term control, or conceivably as part of a multi-player trade that would see the Giants hypothetically land multiple players controlled through 2022.
With a top prospect potentially on offer, it gives Zaidi yet another asset at the trade deadline, beyond the advantage the Giants already have in future payroll commitments. With less than $31MM in payroll committed for the 2022 season, the Giants can certainly absorb a big contract or two. If the Giants can take such a deal off another team’s books, Slusser notes that they might not have to move any top-tier prospects at all, as the other team might accept lesser minor leaguers as the return for the financial relief.