As expected, the Giants are on track to be one of the most interesting teams in baseball before the July 30 trade deadline. But they're looking like they'll be on an unexpected side of the market.
The Giants came into this season with a roster full of veterans on one-year deals, and guys like Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood looked like they might turn into pretty good trade chips over the first couple months of the season. Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt were also entering the final guaranteed seasons of deals and could have been options.
The players have done their part, but they've done it so well that the front office now needs to figure out what to add in hopes of keeping this run going over the final two months. The Giants, now 46-26, have been in first place all June and for 47 days overall.
On this week's Giants Talk podcast, team president and CEO Larry Baer was asked how much leeway president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris will have at the trade deadline if they want to be aggressive. The two have earned the right to push to add payroll, Baer said.
"There's no question that there's so much credibility that Farhan, Scott and the group have earned that there's going to be a big openness with myself and the board and Greg (Johnson) and everyone to do what's right by the club and their recommendations," Baer said. "We've gotten this question over the years a lot. The currency at trade deadlines is twofold -- it's potentially dollars to bring somebody on with added payroll, and then the currency is the minor league prospects.
"I know that the group wants to be protective of both currencies, you could argue the latter is even more (important). We're protective of our great prospects. I'm very confident that whatever recommendations (we get) are going to be very mindful of both of those."
Zaidi and Harris have not made big splashes since taking over, preferring to completely rework the depth and edges of the roster and find undervalued players who might turn into contributors and stars. It certainly has worked, but this past weekend's series was a reminder that Zaidi has in the past convinced ownership to open up the checkbook a little wider.
The Giants pushed hard for Bryce Harper when Zaidi first took charge but watched him choose the Philadelphia Phillies. Since then, they have focused almost exclusively on one-year deals and minor trades, one of which could be a particularly good road map over the next five weeks.
One of Zaidi's best moves since taking over has been the trade for Zack Cozart's contract and prospect Will Wilson, who now looks like a future infield starter for the Giants. Ownership was willing to eat Cozart's $12 million salary -- he never played a game for the Giants -- to add Wilson, a 22-year-old with an .867 OPS in High-A right now.
Coming off a winter in which just about nobody was eager to spend, there should be some deadline sellers who prefer salary relief to a huge prospect haul, which might be a more desirable path for the Giants. They have been extremely protective of their prospects over the last three years.
"Clubs value their minor league prospects, the best prospects, probably even higher than ever before," Baer said. "So we're going to be mindful of that as well."
There's a lot that will go into the decision-making before this deadline, including a familiar theme. In 2019, Zaidi had an opportunity to trade Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, but he kept the group together because it started playing well in July and it was Bruce Bochy's last season. With this potentially being the final season in San Francisco for Posey and the Brandons -- and all three playing so well -- will the Giants stretch further than they otherwise might, honoring what those players have done?
"Everything will get factored in," Baer said. "I think the number one factor is going to be how are we best set up to win this year? Because we're in a position to do that."