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How Zaidi, Giants are viewing upcoming trade deadline

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi is coming up on two decades in a Major League Baseball front office, and he can't remember a deadline that was better for buyers than what he saw last July. The state of that market was a perfect fit for a Giants team that would go on to win the division, and Zaidi and Scott Harris made their biggest splash yet by trading for Kris Bryant. 

With three weeks until this year's deadline, it's unclear how the market will shape up, but Zaidi expects a similar dynamic. He's just not fully sure if the Giants will be in the middle of it this time. 

During a lengthy session with reporters on Tuesday, Zaidi said he hopes to add to this current Giants group before the Aug. 2 deadline, but the front office also needs to see a bit more from a team that played pretty bad baseball for a few weeks before running off four wins in the last five days. 

What Zaidi does not expect, however, is for the Giants to become sellers. 

"We just haven't even had those conversations yet," he said. "We really haven't had that many conversations with other teams. We're starting to field some calls and I think we're willing to listen, but I think until we get to the last week of July it's a little bit of wheel-spinning because so much of it is the context and the situation."

That can change over nine innings, as the Giants showed in the hours following Zaidi's media session. They demolished the Arizona Diamondbacks in one of their better all-around performances of the year, capping a strong day at Oracle Park that started with the news that Carlos Rodón will be an All-Star

 

Rodón represents one of the Giants' best moves in recent offseasons, but also potentially an opportunity. Were the Giants to make him available, he likely would be the best pitcher on the market. There has been speculation from national reporters that Rodón could be moved if the Giants keep losing and Zaidi has seen it.

But he also knows that the Giants are just one game out of the third Wild Card spot and that Rodón might start the first game of any playoff series. 

"I take that personally. Hopefully other guys take that personally," he said of Giants being included on trade target lists. "You don't want to be viewed as a seller when you're trying to compete. That's our perspective. We know that's going to be out there but our focus is going to be to get to July 31 (and) August 1 in a playoff position, where we're looking to see if we can make our team better."

Zaidi is in his fourth season in charge, but he has had just two true trade deadlines because of the pandemic. In 2019, an Alex Dickerson-fueled hot streak led Zaidi to keep the team together rather than trade Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith. Two years later, he made a Bryant trade that he has since referred to as an "all-in" move.

This deadline is shaping up -- at least right now -- to be less dramatic. Zaidi said he would like to add if the Giants get going, but at the moment this is also not a team that would motivate executives to give up good prospects for rentals. Even with the last five days, the Giants are just 45-42.

The most obvious roster hole is in the rotation after Anthony DeSclafani's season-ending ankle surgery, but the Giants expect Jakob Junis back at full strength at the start of the second half. Junis, who has a 2.63 ERA, said his hamstring feels great and his arm got a break, which could prove helpful. Assuming Junis returns next week, Zaidi said he "wouldn't anticipate us being in the starting pitching market."

The Giants could certainly use another late-innings arm, but the bidding for the best relievers tends to get a little insane at the deadline. Zaidi did deal several of his bullpen arms in 2019 and noted that the more newsworthy bullpen trades often don't work out.

As for the struggling lineup, Zaidi expressed faith in his veterans and said a lot of what the Giants do will be determined by their health. 

"We go around the diamond and we still have position players we believe in that were part of our success last year that we think can continue to be part of our success," he said. 

 
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Zaidi also is somewhat eager to get a look at some of the newer Giants. Tuesday's lineup included Yermin Mercedes and Austin Wynns, who were acquired during the season, as well as David Villar and Luis Gonzalez, who started the year in the minors. Zaidi said it's natural to accelerate some internal evaluations as the deadline approaches.

"You want to see them in an expanded role and see if they can handle it," he said. "That's part of the thought process."

The Giants still like the roster they put together, but as they have shown in recent days, they are at the point where big changes can happen quickly. Jake McGee, last year's closer, was DFA'd over the weekend, and the youth movement on Tuesday was certainly a different look. Several veterans have lost playing time in recent weeks as slumps have deepened. 

Just three games above .500, the Giants have been a disappointment, a team that's right in the middle of the pack. That has made it difficult to truly commit to a path before the deadline, but they have three more weeks to figure it out. 

"There's a lot that can happen in three weeks," Zaidi said. 

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