This is your annual offseason reminder that the Giants have several players with full or limited no-trade clauses.
We mention this because a recent rumor circulating in Chicago has the Giants linked to Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward in a possible trade involving relievers Will Smith and Mark Melancon.
One issue: Melancon has a full no-trade clause as part of his contract that pays him $14 million in each of the next two seasons.
No-trade clauses are tricky because they make any transaction dependent on a player’s decision. And while common sense might suggest Melancon would gladly waive his NTC to leave a rebuild in San Francisco for a contender in Chicago, there’s no guarantee. Players stay with teams for many reasons — comfort with the city and teammates, family concerns, etc. — and you never know what will drive their decision. Sometimes, it’s just a whim.
Heyward also comes with his own issues. First, he’s owed $106 million in salary over the next five seasons — that’s a lot of money for a Giants team already saddled with heavy financial commitments in the coming years. Second, Heyward is entering his age-30 season with diminishing skills. He’s hit just 26 total homers in three seasons with the Cubs, and while the Giants certainly need outfielders, they also need bats with pop, especially for $100 million-plus.
Oh, and Heyward has a partial no-trade clause, meaning he can identify a number of teams where he can’t be traded. Are the Giants on that list? Considering their sliding prospects of being contenders, they could be. Few veterans would be willing to leave a team with which they won a World Series, no matter how nice the weather at the destination.
We won’t even go into the possibility that the Giants would be sacrificing their most valuable trade piece in Smith, who’s scheduled to receive $4 million or so in arbitration, to absorb a bad contract. It certainly wouldn’t be how Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ new president of baseball operations, would want his first major move in charge of the team to go.
Before you swap another player in Melancon’s place in this Heyward deal, let’s review the full list of other Giants players with some form of a no-trade clause. Catcher Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford have full protection, and pitcher Jeff Samardzija and first baseman Brandon Belt have partial clauses. That doesn’t leave many moveable Giants assets, particularly in a complicated deal like acquiring Heyward. Cash to cover the outfielder’s hefty contract certainly would have to be involved.
In the end, players negotiate no-trade clauses for one simple reason: They don’t want to be traded against their will. That makes the Giants’ rebuilding project a little more difficult and shouldn’t be forgotten as the inevitable Hot Stove rumors hit over the next two months.