Giants

Why the Giants should call Yankees, ask about trading for Sonny Gray

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AP

Why the Giants should call Yankees, ask about trading for Sonny Gray

SAN FRANCISCO — In his first year with the Giants, pitching coach Curt Young received plenty of praise for his work with young starters Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez. He also was frequently mentioned by veteran Derek Holland, who needed a fresh start after a brutal year with the White Sox. 

What could Young do with a young starter who also happens to need a change of scenery? The Giants should find out. 

At his end-of-season press conference Friday morning, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman bluntly told reporters that he would attempt to trade Sonny Gray, a former All-Star who posted a 4.90 ERA in his first full season with the Yankees and quickly became a target for their fans. It’s a call the Giants should make for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, Gray, just 28 years old, has not lost his talent. In 15 appearances on the road, he had a 3.17 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .226 average. He allowed just three homers in 71 innings on the road, striking out 78.

At Yankee Stadium, where pop-ups to right can turn into homers, Gray had a 6.98 ERA and gave up 11 homers in 59 1/3 innings. This is a man who simply needs a new ballpark, and there isn’t a better one for pitchers than AT&T Park. 

At his peak in Oakland, where Young was his pitching coach, Gray was a five-WAR starter. Even in 2017, the year he was traded, he had an ERA+ of 122. A repeat of that season would have ranked him second on the 2018 Giants, behind Rodriguez. 

Gray should be a buy-low target for plenty of teams, but the Giants have one big advantage here. Because of his past success, Gray is estimated to make $9.1 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, which could price him out for some other teams, including the one playing across the Bay Bridge. For the Giants, that’s a drop in the bucket, and they could take on the full salary and then see what the Yankees want in return. 

That part is unclear, but Yankees reporters didn’t seem to think the trade ask would be too high. According to Marc Carig of The Athletic, Cashman said, “It’s probably best to try this somewhere else” and made it clear that if he finds a trade partner, Gray is being moved. The Giants — who are interviewing Cashman’s former assistant GM (Kim Ng) and have a former Yankee (Brian Sabean) currently running their operations — would appear to be the perfect fit, giving Cashman the chance to move Gray to the other league, where he couldn’t come back to haunt the Yankees. 

If he can find his old form, Gray could give the Giants a No. 2 or No. 3 starter on a one-year deal as they look to reload, setting the rotation and allowing the new front office to spend the rest of the offseason looking for bats. If he’s good and the team still isn’t, Gray would be a nice trade chip in July. And if it doesn’t work out in any respect, Gray would hit free agency next offseason, and the Giants wouldn’t be stuck with another long-term commitment to a starting pitcher.

Either way, this is a call they have to make.

Giants' latest comeback win reminds Joe Panik of 'October baseball'

Giants' latest comeback win reminds Joe Panik of 'October baseball'

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have been careful not to get too far ahead of themselves during this stunning July run, but they're human. They are just like you at home, although without the ability to tweet Vince McMahon GIFs during rallies. They can't help but think about the big picture. 

A few minutes after another comeback win, Joe Panik couldn't help himself. He started to think of what the 5-4 win reminded him of

"That eighth inning," Panik said, "That's October baseball at Oracle Park."

It was hard to argue. With seemingly half the house rooting for the visiting Cubs, Oracle Park had a raucous back-and-forth vibe on a Monday night. For nearly eight full innings, the visiting fans were having all of the fun. 

But these Giants, one of the worst teams in baseball for three months, all of a sudden can't be put in the dirt. Trailing by two in the eighth, they got a leadoff double from Pablo Sandoval on a pitch that nearly scraped the dirt. Brandon Crawford's single squeezed just between two middle infielders to get the Giants within one. Kevin Pillar just barely beat out an inning-ending double play ball and scored when Austin Slater's drive to deep center climbed inches over Albert Almora's glove. 

Panik put the finishing touches on, slicing a double down the left field line to send the ballpark over the edge. It's been a rough stretch for Panik, one during which he has lost playing time, but he was the hero on this night.

"It feels good," he said. "You want to feel like you're helping the team. I got fortunate to be put in that situation -- runner on second, go-ahead run on. It feels good. These guys have been battling hard, grinding hard. It definitely feels good to help them out and have a productive night."

Panik's three-hit game was his first since May 7 and couldn't have been timed better. He has lost time to Donovan Solano recently and entered the night with just one extra-base hit in his last 20 games.

But Bruce Bochy has kept the faith. He had his longtime second baseman in there for the first game of a huge three-game series.

"Solano, yeah he's in the mix more playing short and second, but Joe, you've got to stay with a guy who has a base-hit bat," Bochy said. 

The final base hit Monday did the trick, putting the capper on a night when the Giants once again got contributions from all over. Drew Pomeranz, recently moved to the bullpen, struck out four in two scoreless bridge innings. Sam Dyson took over the ninth with Will Smith due a day off. He brought some "torture" back, but shut it down.

[RELATED: Rookies provide Giants with flexibility]

Dyson's final out got the Giants to 51-50, putting them above .500 for the first time all season. They're a winning team for the first time since last August 14. 

"I feel great for these guys," Bochy said. "The way they're fighting and battling back ... what a comeback."

Conner Menez, Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson give Giants more flexibility

Conner Menez, Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson give Giants more flexibility

SAN FRANCISCO -- About three-and-a-half hours before Monday's first pitch, Madison Bumgarner, Tyler Beede and Jeff Samardzija played catch along the left field line. Shaun Anderson, the night's starter, got ready in the clubhouse. 

For now, that's the rotation. Conner Menez, the fifth member as of Sunday, was optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento to clear a roster spot for reliever Sam Coonrod. 

That's going to be life for the Giants moving forward as they look to gain increased flexibility with the roster. Anderson, Beede and Menez all have minor league options, along with Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez, who also are potential big league starters. 

In the past, the Giants have generally had veteran-filled rotations that weren't very nimble, but with two off days coming up, the staff opted for bullpen depth over a fifth starter. 

"We still needed some help in the 'pen," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "(Menez) threw a very nice ballgame, but we still need some help in the 'pen. We've been using those guys a lot."

[RELATED: How revamped minor-league system changes Giants' calculus]

The Giants played four games in three days at Coors Field last week and then three extra-innings games against the Mets. During that stretch, Suarez, Williams Jerez and Ty Blach all came up and then went back down after helping out the bullpen. Beede and Menez have both been optioned back to the minors after starts this month. 

That's what you can do with increased flexibility, and Coonrod can be optioned, too. Bochy indicated it will be this way through the trade deadline. The Giants don't need a fifth starter until the first weekend of August.