Next up in the Trade Deadline Targets series are a pair of players whose availability may be less certain than it was a week ago (when I said I’d write this post). Logically, the Giants should remain sellers. However, a recent 17-4 stretch has the Giants back within striking distance (of a wild card spot, not the division) of annoying everyone through another miraculous postseason run.
Under its former regime, I’d almost be expecting the Giants to be buyers with less than a week until the trade deadline. However, Farhan Zaidi probably has a better grasp, and while the Giants may not have a complete firesale, I’d be surprised if he held on to all their assets.
- Felipe Vazquez (June 27)
- Will Smith (July 1)
- Shane Greene (July 10)
- Ken Giles (July 15)
- Matthew Boyd (July 19)
- Whit Merrifield (July 22)
The Giants have a very good bullpen. Remove Reyes Moronta, as his age and amount of team control means he could be a key piece of the bullpen when the Giants have their next real window of contention. That leaves Smith, Dyson and Watson as logical trade candidates.
First, Dyson. The 31-year-old righty has been a Giant since June 2017 and has enjoyed his time in the Bay. After a sorta rough first half-season in San Francisco, Dyson turned it around to start 2018. He made 74 appearances last season and posted a 2.69 ERA and 1.081 WHIP in 70 1/3 innings. He only struck out 56 batters and walked 20, but turned that around this season. Entering Tuesday, Dyson owned a 2.57 ERA and 0.918 WHIP in 49 innings with 47 strikeouts and only seven walks. Reliever ERA isn’t the best stat, and this year he’s allowed six of 14 inherited runners to score (not great) after allowing nine of 32 to score in 2018 (better). He has a solid 3.06 DRA, which is the third-best mark on the Giants.
On the other hand, the Dodgers could be interested in an old friend. Watson signed with the Giants before the 2018 season after spending half a season with the Dodgers. His time with the Dodgers was mostly fine, as he posted a 2.70 ERA in 20 innings after being acquired from the Pirates. He also threw seven innings and allowed two earned runs in the postseason for the Dodgers before signing a two year deal (third-year player option, more on that later) with the Giants. Watson would give the Dodgers familiarity and a lefty with a potential extra year of team control. However, Watson’s shiny numbers in 2019 are a bit more misleading. His 2.88 ERA comes with a 4.25 FIP and a 5.02 DRA, and he’s allowed four of 10 inherited runners to score. Watson has also uncharacteristically struggled against lefties in 2019. It’s been a very limited sample size (47 plate appearances), but lefties own a .348/.362/.478 triple slash against Watson, giving them an OPS more than .200 better than righties (.840 vs .612).
While neither pitcher would be the shutdown back-end guy the Dodgers so desperately need to make another deep run into October, they’d absolutely be a boost to the bullpen. Dyson replacing a Yimi Garcia or a Dylan Floro, Watson giving the Dodgers another lefty out of the pen to free up a potential Julio Urias transition into the rotation.
There’s a bunch of factors here that make figuring out a cost for any Giants players pretty interesting. The rivalry and familiarity between the two organizations as a factor is probably overblown, but the link between Zaidi and the Dodgers makes it intriguing. He probably knows the Dodger farm system better than anyone outside of the organization right now. The Giants recent success also makes it interesting. Since the All-Star break, the Giants are 11-3. However, six of those 11 wins have come in extra innings (doesn’t seem very sustainable). In that time, Alex Dickerson has a 248 wRC+ and Mike Yastrzemski has a 142 wRC+ (also probably not sustainable?). Zaidi is probably too smart to push all his chips in for a shot at a second wild card (currently 2.5 back and would need to leapfrog four teams to do it), so I’d imagine they at least move some relievers.
Dyson will have his final year of arbitration next season, and will likely get a slight bump from his $5 million salary this season. Watson has a $2.5 million player option for next season, so whether or not he opts in to a deal will be an interesting conversation. The market last offseason was not kind to older, not-elite relievers, so there’s a chance Watson opts in (especially with a team that should remain competitive). Essentially, we might operate under the assumption that neither arm will be a rental.
The Giants’ farm system, while not as big a joke as it used to be, is still in a weird place. Their nine best prospects on MLB Pipeline are all below Double-A except for Logan Webb, who was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs in 2017 and is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. For non-elite relievers, they’d be wise to look for some slightly higher-level prospects rather than younger lottery tickets. Uceta and Wong are both at Double-A Tulsa and fit the bill. Uceta could boost the Giants’ future rotation next to Tyler Beede and Dereck Rodriguez. Wong likely wouldn’t stick at catcher with the Giants long term (Joey Bart is probably gonna be p good), but could shift over to second or third long term, where the Giants farm is pretty barren.
Jackson would give the Giants a second baseman that could step into the lineup today and be a platoon partner with Joe Panik, who has been worth -0.1 fWAR since the beginning of last season. Panik’s time as a full-time player might be nearing its end. Kendall is about as big a question mark as a prospect can be, but his defense and speed could be extremely valuable at Oracle Field and make up for his questionable hit tool.
To SF: Jordan Sheffield, Wong, Uceta, Kendall
To LA: Dyson, Watson
If the Dodgers wanted to kill two birds with one stone and acquire both pieces, the price would be some combination of mid-range prospects. The Giants likely won’t get a big Dodger prospect unless their Will Smith is in the trade, but they could still get a nice boost to their farm. Sheffield has bounced back from a rough 2018 and been excellent this season between Rancho and Tulsa. The Giants likely won’t be scared off by his size, and he’d add an upside arm and benefit from a pitcher-friendly park.
The Giants are an interesting case right now, and Dodger fans should be hoping their hot streak leads to them refusing to sell (and then losing like 13 straight in August). It’s not often that the two teams are trade partners, but the Dodgers have a talented and deep farm system that Zaidi is familiar with and the Giants have some valuable relievers that won’t be in their long-term plans. There’s a match there, and it wouldn’t shock me to see something happen in the next week.