The San Francisco Giants have been tough to watch this week following a 13-5 loss to the Dodgers and 13-3 and 14-2 losses to the Cincinnati Reds, but somehow they're playing just under .500 baseball this week despite being outscored by 26 runs. After the rough start and the numerous injuries that the club has dealt with, plans of contending this season seem to get further and further each passing day. Even though it's just May 6th, the Giants would need to play .534 ball the rest of the way just to reach the .500 mark. To get to 85 wins and have a shot at a wild card spot, the Giants would need to go 74-57 (.565). That's not an outlandish mark by any means, and we're not saying that it's time to sell right now, but if the current trend continues much longer it may be time to break up the band and build for tomorrow.
The Giants' Big Fish
The biggest piece of trade bait that the Giants have would be Johnny Cueto, who can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and there is no doubt that he's going to exercise that option after the season he had in 2016. With his future in San Francisco uncertain and the Giants already pressed against the luxury tax, Cueto would be the one player to move that could bring back enough to help restock the Giants farm system. Heck, trade him for every single one of a team's left field prospects. One of them is bound to work out, right?
The Houston Astros could be a fit here, as they have been rumored to have an interest in Jose Quintana for months now, but the White Sox asking price is likely extremely high following the way they swindled both the Red Sox and Nationals this winter. For Cueto, the Giants could target an arm in the lower minors and potentially someone like Daz Cameron (#9) or Teoscar Hernandez (#7). Cameron is the son of former Mariner outfielder Mike Cameron and was selected by the Astros in 2015. Hernandez has raw power, an above average arm, some speed, and a little big league experience. MLB Pipeline also says that he has 20-20 potential.
With Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick, Carlos Beltran, Nori Aoki and George Springer currently on the big league roster, utility man Marwin Gonzalez taking at-bats at any position he can find them, and Kyle Tucker (#2) and Derek Fisher (#4) above them in the Astros system, both Cameron and Hernandez could be pieces in a deadline deal, but only one of them would likely head to San Francisco.
The only player of consequence that will be a free agent at the end of the season is Eduardo Nunez, who has been valuable in moving around the diamond for the Giants since the arrival of Christian Arroyo and the injury to Brandon Crawford. That said, if the Giants fall out of it, they could turn to Kelby Tomlinson to fill into that role and find Nunez a new home. The Giants traded their #10 prospect at the time, Adalberto Mejia, to get a year and a half of Nunez, but for just a couple of months of him the Giants won't get anywhere close to that value. They'd have to dig deep into a team's farm system and hope for the best.
Nick Hundley, Justin Ruggiano, Aaron Hill, Drew Stubbs and Michael Morse are the other players on the main roster, or at least hovering around it, that would hit free agency after 2017. Matt Cain has a team option for 2018 worth $21M, the same as he's making this season, but also includes a $7.5M buyout. It seems hard to believe that the team would trade away Matt Cain given what he has meant to the club for so many years now, but if he pitches like April Matt Cain (not last night's version), he could become a decently valuable piece for a team hoping to contend. He has the experience to help lead a team all the way after all.
Then there's Hunter Pence, who will be a free agent after next season as well. While we love Hunter, he hasn't been healthy since 2014 and isn't the kind of power bat that teams typically target at the deadline. With a full year of service going to a potential trade partner, along with the remaining part of the 2017 season, Pence's price tag would probably be somewhere around a top 10-15 prospect range, depending on the team. Teams aren't going to overpay for an outfielder in his mid-30's that has had injury issues and will be owed $18.5M in 2018, but if they are serious about adding someone with postseason experience and a leader in the clubhouse, that's how the Giants get someone in the upper levels of the prospect ranks.
Finding a partner to dance with would be the hard part here as things currently stand. The Cleveland Indians could be one team that would entertain some talks, but the Astros, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, Rockies and Dodgers don't have any need for another outfielder at the moment. The Angels and Marlins don't have the farm system to make a deal without hurting their prospect depth. The Rays and a couple other teams aren't in the right financial situation to take on Pence's 2018 contract.
2017 has not been kind to the Giants thus far this season. The team's building blocks aren't getting any younger. So what's next?
What do you think the Giants should do if the season continues to progress as it has started? Should they strip the ship of all its gold and rebuild completely? Should they just move their impending free agents over the next couple of seasons? Or should they stay the course because they aren't this bad? Let us know what you think on Twitter @SFGiantsonScout.