Giants not feeling urgency before Trade Deadline
Sabean 'prepared to stand pat' as team falls further down NL West standings
SAN FRANCISCO -- Typically, baseball's Trade Deadline motivates the Giants to do something.
This year, they have little urgency to do anything.
The reigning World Series champions approach the end of July well under .500, leaving them short of respectability and steadily further from contention in the National League West. Until recently, trying to acquire an elite pitcher or proven hitter appeared to be an option for the Giants. Now, after a disastrous 3-7 homestand, making such a deal probably would be a fruitless effort, not to mention a waste of the personnel the Giants would have to surrender. Since depth of talent has become an issue for the Giants, parting with decent prospects probably would be an unwise move for the organization in the long run.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean recently defined the Giants' situation in terms that might have sounded somewhat contradictory but didn't totally clash with each other.
"I would say, on balance, I'm prepared to stand pat," Sabean said. Yet he also said that he would remain "open minded," thus keeping his options open.
Sabean didn't ruled out the possibility of dealing a marketable veteran -- for example, right fielder Hunter Pence or left-handed reliever Javier Lopez leading up to Wednesday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline. The club's free fall on the field increases the likelihood of this kind of deal, at least incrementally.
If the Giants dealt Pence, it would mark his third consecutive year to change teams at the Deadline. The unconventional yet productive 30-year-old went from Houston to Philadelphia in 2011 before moving to the Giants last year in exchange for three players. Eligible for free agency at the end of this season, Pence has said that he'd like to stay with San Francisco. But he wouldn't be the first player to swoon under the romance of the open market.
Lopez, 36, ranks as one of the league's top relief specialists. He'd be a wise acquisition for a contending team hoping to complement its bullpen with somebody who can neutalize left-handed hitters.
"If the right suitor came along, we would listen on some of our players," Sabean said.
That's because even Sabean acknowledged that the Giants appear finished as postseason contenders this year.
"As we speak, the math is horrific against us and we're almost ready to turn the page on this season," he said. And that was before the Chicago Cubs swept San Francisco in a weekend series.
Sabean has made trades while the club struggled. In 2008, the Giants were eight games out of first place on July 20 when Sabean traded second baseman Ray Durham, a fixture in the lineup since he joined the team in '03, to Milwaukee. They were 11 games behind in '07 when right-hander Matt Morris went to Pittsburgh.
Otherwise, the Giants have attempted to bolster their roster in recent years at the Trade Deadline. Despite being only marginally in contention in 2005 and '06, they dealt for outfielder Randy Winn and first baseman Shea Hillenbrand, respectively. While cruising above .500 in each of the last four years, they acquired first baseman Ryan Garko and second baseman Freddy Sanchez ('09), Lopez and right-hander Ramon Ramirez ('10), right fielder Carlos Beltran and shortstop Orlando Cabrera ('11), and Pence and second baseman Marco Scutaro ('12).
Ideally, the Giants would latch onto a consistent starting pitcher or a proven hitter to begin restocking the roster for next year. But that performer would have to be under contract for 2014 or ready to guarantee his services to the club past this season. As Sabean has said and as common sense dictates, adding a rent-a-player who's bound for free agency would be pointless at this juncture.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.