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What will trade deadline look like for surging Giants?

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USATSI

For the second year in a row, the players are making life more complicated for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. 

The 2019 Giants were not a good team, but they went 19-6 in July, briefly turning into the hottest team in the majors. Zaidi honored that stretch by keeping most of the gang around for a run at a postseason spot that ended pretty quickly after the trade deadline. 

A year later, the Giants looked dead in the water through 24 games. But just as they did last July, they've found a new gear near the midway point of the season, winning six straight to not only get back into the race, but actually slide into the second NL wild card spot. 

The buy-sell decision once again has become complicated. Not that Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris are complaining. They hoped to be competitive this season, even if that makes it difficult to figure out which road to take before the Aug. 31 trade deadline. 

Last week, Zaidi said he expected this all to come down to the wire once again.

"Based on our experience last year and the way the trade deadline seems to have played out in baseball over the last few years, so much of the activity comes down to the last 24 hours, and even the last couple of hours before the trade deadline," Zaidi told NBC Sports Bay Area. "So there's going to be a lot of conversations between now and then, but I think there's no need to set on an irreversible course of 'We're definitely going to try and accomplish these five or six things.' "

 

The last couple of hours before last July's deadline were frantic. While the Giants held Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith -- ultimately taking the draft pick compensation -- they did decimate what was a pretty solid bullpen, picking up several prospects in the process, including Mauricio Dubon. 

The Giants don't have nearly as much to offer this time around even if they wanted to sell. Johnny Cueto could intrigue a lot of contenders, but he's owed $26 million after this season and money has become extremely tight around the game.

Zaidi got the Braves to take on Mark Melancon's contract last year. If he can dump another big deal in this environment, you might as well find a plot of land at Third and King for a statue. 

Kevin Gausman, Trevor Cahill and Tyler Anderson could help teams in need of pitching depth, but ... the Giants are one of those teams. And remember, they're currently in a playoff spot. Those three have helped save the season and solidify the rotation, and with Drew Smyly and Jeff Samardzija still rehabbing, the Giants don't have obvious in-house replacements. 

Zaidi said the front office would evaluate areas where there's a surplus, and he thought a lot of trades that go down Aug. 31 could be need-for-need. Perhaps the Giants will find that another team covets one of their younger non-stars, with a similar young depth piece coming back in return. 

"I think with the uncertainty of the situation we're in, teams don't know how to value 2020 versus future years," Zaidi said. "You might see more need-for-need action in the trade market this year."

Even those trades are more complicated than ever before. Whether they're buyers or sellers, the Giants are going into this a little blind. They have not scouted opposing minor leaguers since last August, an eternity in a young player's career. 

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Take for example Jaylin Davis, who came over in the Sam Dyson trade a few moments before last year's deadline. Giants scouts had watched Davis hit 25 homers in the minors already, but this year's version of a Davis is somewhere in an alternate camp with no scouts, fans or media allowed. MLB has tried to provide data from those camps, but it's unclear how helpful that has been. Not every team has participated in the dissemination process. 

Giants officials also are handcuffed by the fact that they can only trade for -- or trade away -- players already in player pools. Dubon and Davis were the types of advanced prospects who make those 60-man lists. But a Tristan Beck, who came over in the Melancon deal, would probably be working out at home right now. Zaidi said teams will try to find creative solutions.

 

"There's always the option for somebody who is not on the major league team or at the alternate site to have those players included in a trade in a 'player to be named later' context," Zaidi said. "What MLB is working on in terms of data sharing will help us get some information on what players at alternate sites are doing, but obviously there are a lot of younger players, younger prospects, who aren't even in the alternate sites who we basically have no looks on this year. 

"That's certainly a challenge, but in the right scenario for the right type of player, I think we would be open to making a trade along those lines."