Giants

Not ready for major moves, Giants swap one young outfielder for another

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AP

Not ready for major moves, Giants swap one young outfielder for another

SAN FRANCISCO — Here’s all you need to know about the current situation in left field, an ongoing black hole for the Giants for years on end: Alen Hanson, a utility infielder, has gotten two of the last three starts there, and that could be the norm for a while. 

The Giants made an outfield move Saturday morning, but it was not one that will particularly shake things up. This was more about kicking a painful decision down the road. Mac Williamson, who was struggling since returning from a concussion, was optioned back to Triple-A. Austin Slater, who was hitting .344 at that level with 24 doubles and five homers, was recalled, but he will not get an everyday look. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said Hunter Pence likely will start in left on Sunday and indicated that Hanson will get additional time there as the Giants try to take advantage of one of their hottest bats. There are no indications that the team is ready to make a more serious move, such as parting ways with Pence — who has a .463 OPS — or Austin Jackson, who is at .603. 

“These guys have had success in the major leagues,” Bochy said. “It could be a game or two that everything clicks.”

Pence is a fan favorite who is in the last year of a lucrative deal, and Jackson is not even a quarter of the way through a two-year deal. Both were relegated to backup duty recently by Gorkys Hernandez and Williamson, but the latter had seen his OPS drop to .516 after hitting three homers before his concussion. 

“We just want Mac to get back to playing every day and get his swing back to where it was when we brought him up earlier before his concussion,” Bochy said. “

Williamson has a 1.525 OPS in two minor league stints this season. If he can recapture any of that magic, made possible by an offseason swing overhaul, perhaps the Giants will come to terms with the situation at the big league level. For now, they will continue to roll with veterans, hoping that they break out. Bochy said Pence and Jackson are working hard every day to contribute in limited roles. 

“I know how hard this game can be when you’re not playing every day,” he said. 

The problem is that that is the role. The Giants need their backup outfielders to produce as pinch-hitters, but Jackson is 2-for-15 off the bench and Pence is 1-for-10. Slater, with his simple swing and gap power, could be intriguing in that role, and perhaps he’ll stick. For now, he appears to be the only reinforcement coming. Bochy said there have been no discussions about promoting Steven Duggar. 

Manny Machado is a Dodger, so Giants must be better at being the Giants

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USATSI

Manny Machado is a Dodger, so Giants must be better at being the Giants

As Comrade Pavlovic explains here, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ acquisition of Manny Machado is a gaudy rental that only slightly narrows the San Francisco Giants’ path to a surprise postseason berth.
 
In short, the rich got richer, and the Giants continue to mind the tax line.
 
There is, of course, no fun in that position. The A’s aren’t selling for a change, which makes the Giants seem weirdly conservative in comparison to the noisy neighbors they never seem to notice. The Warriors, who move in down the street in a couple of years, are burning money like it’s a college football pregame bonfire, which also makes the Giants look uncharacteristically thrifty.
 
But Machado is the only real jewel in the trade deadline crown (the Mets have pitcher Jacob deGrom, but nobody expects the Mets to do anything other than standard Met-ism), and not only would he find a way to beg out of any trade to San Francisco on religious grounds (he does not worship in a power-restrictive park), the Giants already have a shortstop in which they are exceedingly proud.
 
In short, the Giants weren’t in the Machado race, and they don’t look like they will be in many others, either. This is their year of stasis, in which they will either win as they are or lose as they are.
 
Indeed, the Giants are operating outside their usual shopping norms. They would need to shave salary to acquire salary, which means there will be no 2010 Summer Of Love (Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Jose Guillen). And their prospect bin is running pretty low, so they can’t toss young’uns into the wind to see what veteran difference-makers they can attract.
 
Thus, the Dodgers improving their lot is of little consequence to the Giants, save that corner of the fan base that believes the Dodgers always must be monitored. The Giants need to be more concerned about what the Diamondbacks and Rockies and Phillies and Nationals and Braves and Brewers and Cardinals do, which means there probably are too many teams to keep track of down the stretch.
 
Indeed, the simplicity of the task before the Giants is clear. Their path to salvation is through a rehabilitated Evan Longoria, and a revitalized Johnny Cueto, and a transformed Jeff Samardzija, and an offense that doesn’t regard seeing its own players on base as evidence of plague. The Giants have to be better at being the Giants, and there is no guarantee of that based on the evidence of not just the past 98 games but the 230-some-odd before that.
 
But if it helps, someone will enjoy the trade deadline. It just isn’t going to be the Giants. They are, for one of the rare times since they moved from Candlestick Park, a team likely to do almost nothing of consequence this July.
 
But maybe they can get DeMarcus Cousins to throw out the first pitch at one of the Pirates games in August. I mean, if you can’t be in the market, you might as well enjoy someone who is.

How Dodgers' trade for Manny Machado affects Giants' NL West chances

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USATSI

How Dodgers' trade for Manny Machado affects Giants' NL West chances

SAN FRANCISCO — With every move they’ve made over the last nine months, the Giants have been careful to stay under the competitive balance tax, eager to jump headfirst into this offseason’s loaded free agent class. Unfortunately, they’ll now get an up-close look at the best all-around player scheduled to be available this winter. 

After weeks of rumors, and an awkward All-Star Game, shortstop Manny Machado finally was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon. The Dodgers sent five prospects to Baltimore, a package highlighted by Yusniel Diaz, an outfielder who was the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. The other four prospects are not considered top-20 guys. 

There’s no sugarcoating this. The Dodgers, despite an extremely slow start, finished the first half atop the National League West, half a game ahead of the Diamondbacks and four up on the Giants. An L.A. lineup that already has eight hitters with double-digit homers added a player with 24 homers, 65 RBI and a .963 OPS at the break. Machado was far and away the best player available at the trade deadline, and he now might give the Dodgers the best position player in the division. 

Shortstop wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Dodgers. Chris Taylor has done a nice job filling in, but he’s no Machado, and the 26-year-old provides a perfect second-half fill-in for Corey Seager, who was lost earlier this year to Tommy John surgery. 

The Dodgers beat out the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Brewers and possibly a few others for Machado’s services. After hoarding top prospects for years, L.A. made its move, adding to a team that has a sense of urgency after falling in the World Series last year. Clayton Kershaw can opt out of his deal this offseason, too, and this move certainly shows the ace that there is a commitment to winning at all costs. 

Machado has just 48 at-bats against current Giants pitchers -- nearly half of those against Derek Holland, who spent his prior seasons in the American League. The Giants will get their first look at him in about a month, when they visit the Dodgers on Aug. 13. The Dodgers come back to AT&T Park for the final series of the regular season. 

Until that first meeting, where does this leave the Giants? 

Their road to a division title just got a bit steeper, and it’s unclear how they’ll counter. General manager Bobby Evans has said he’s not under orders to stay under the CBT line, but it’s not hard to read between the lines. The Giants just shipped a decent prospect to Texas to ditch Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin’s contracts, a move that was made specifically to get further away from the tax line.

Before the Machado trade, it was hard to see the Giants going away from their plan and adding a significant piece. The same holds true today. Any countermove won’t exactly have the Dodgers shaking.

Some Giants fans might take solace in the fact that the Dodgers paid a decent price in prospects to acquire Machado. But Diaz plays a position where their organization is loaded, and the unfortunate truth is that the Dodgers’ system today still is better than most. 

The Giants still would like to bolster their lineup, with a glaring need against left-handed pitching. Another bullpen arm always is helpful, although Ray Black might fill that hole internally. If the Giants do want to add, they’ll need to find a way to dump a bit more salary, and perhaps they can get creative, as they did with the Rangers deal.

They will not however, be able to go move-for-move with the team atop the division. Machado was the best player out there, and he’s now a Dodger.