The narrative was an easy one to build as the Giants shopped the bargain bin in the offseason. Kevin Gausman would be the next Drew Pomeranz for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Or perhaps Drew Smyly would be his next Pomeranz. In a dream world, maybe both would turn into strong members of the rotation or bullpen and allow Zaidi to deal for another Mauricio Dubon at the deadline.
There's nothing about 2020 that's a dream world right now, but as Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris approach Monday's 1 p.m. PT trade deadline, they still might have a chance to replicate that deal.
Smyly is hurt, but Gausman has in many ways been exactly what the Giants had hoped, and in a market lacking true sellers, he could be a perfect fit for a team with grander aspirations than sneaking into the seventh or eighth playoff spot.
Gausman has a 4.54 ERA, but they're not talking about ERA in front offices these days. His FIP is 3.30, and Gausman has 48 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings. His fastball regularly sits in the upper 90s late in starts with an above average spin rate, and his splitter is impossible to hit when he's on. Gausman is a starter for the Giants, but has experience coming out of the bullpen.
In short, he's exactly the type of pitcher teams are looking for right now. He's also hoping nobody offers enough to make it worthwhile for the Giants.
"I don't want to leave these guys, honestly," he said after his last start Thursday. "It's been a really great group of guys and they've made coming to the ballpark really fun in a situation with the pandemic where it's pretty frustrating, with just all the things we have to go through just to be able to get into the ballpark.
These guys have been great."
It has been forgotten a bit the last couple of days, but trades are being made during an unprecedented time. It's a scary time for players, who have gotten used to specific protocols and now might at any moment be put on a flight to a new city, ballpark and set of safety rules. The Giants haven't had a positive COVID-19 test since July 6, and Gausman cited their work in saying he hopes to be around after today.
"It's just weird. If I get traded to a team and show up, I could show up the first day with a new team and just not like the protocols that they're going through," Gausman said. "I feel like the Giants have done a really good job of making it go as smoothly as it can. If I'm with a different ballclub they could not be doing half of the stuff that we're doing. Every organization is doing their own thing.
"That definitely adds a different element to (the deadline)."
While Gausman has his reasons for wanting to stay, the Giants have plenty to keep him. They're right in the race for one of the final two NL postseason spots at 17-19, and it's possible Gausman could be their Game 1 starter in a postseason series. At the very least, he would start Game 2 after Johnny Cueto, another potential trade chip.
The Giants have Smyly and Jeff Samardzija on the way back, but it's hard to picture them sneaking into the postseason without Gausman, who has stabilized the top of the rotation. The overall results haven't fully been there, but the Giants were right about Gausman's talent when they gave him a one-year, $9 million contract at the Winter Meetings last December.
Gausman had been with three different teams over the previous two years, and he said he didn't handle an initial trade from the Baltimore Orioles to the Atlanta Braves well. This time around, the 29-year-old said he knows "it's a business, so whatever happens, happens." If he is traded, he'll be disappointed, but perhaps that won't be the end of the road with the Giants.
"It has no bearing on where I end up next year," he said. "I could get traded and could definitely see me re-signing here. I really like this team. I really like all these guys. It's been a lot of fun coming to the ballpark with this group of guys."