Worst trades in Giants history: Ranking 10 deals that backfired
10. Zack Wheeler to Mets (2011)
Giants receive: OF Carlos Beltran
Mets receive: RHP Zack Wheeler
Like a lot of these, this was defensible at the time and actually still is. The reigning champs had lost Buster Posey for the year, but they were four games up and had such a stacked rotation that Madison Bumgarner's 3.21 ERA ranked a distant fourth. Going for it, and dealing from a position of strength, made sense.
But Beltran got hurt and missed two weeks shortly after the deal, and the Giants missed the playoffs by four games. Wheeler dealt with injury issues but had a 3.77 ERA in 126 starts for the Mets before signing a massive deal with the Phillies. He's the type of arm the Giants were looking for in all corners during the latter part of the decade.
9. Dave Kingman to Mets (1975)
Giants receive: $150,000
Mets receive: 1B/3B Dave Kingman
Kingman, a poor defender who had a ton of power but struck out a lot, had asked the Giants to trade him because he had become a part-time player, and the Mets ultimately dealt him to the Padres two years later while in a contract dispute. That was part of the "Midnight Massacre," with the Kingman deal getting overshadowed by a Tom Seaver trade on the same day.
The Giants got just cash for Kingman, which is what they wanted given their financial situation. He hit 36 homers in 1975 and 37 more the next year. Kingman bounced around but twice led the league in homers after leaving San Francisco.
8. Bryan Reynolds to Pirates (2018)
Giants receive: OF Andrew McCutchen
Pirates receive: OF Bryan Reynolds, RHP Kyle Crick
McCutchen was a former MVP and five-time All-Star who had a solid season in San Francisco before getting traded to the Yankees. But acquiring him meant doubling down on an aging roster that lost 98 games the year before, and ultimately that led to a new front office being put in place.
The Giants gave up on Reynolds less than two years after taking him in the second round, and in 2019 he hit .314 and hit 16 homers for the Pirates. His 4.1 WAR would have easily led his former team. Had the Giants kickstarted their rebuild a bit earlier, Reynolds might have entered this season as their best player.
7. Adam Duvall to the Reds (2015)
Giants receive: RHP Mike Leake
Reds receive: 3B Adam Duvall, RHP Keury Mella
Sitting just half a game out in the NL West and needing consistent starting pitching, the Giants dealt for Leake after falling short on Cole Hamels and David Price. They had liked him for a while and hoped to keep him long-term. Leake dominated in four starts leading up to the deadline and he was okay in SF, posting a 4.07 ERA, but the playoff push fell short.
At the time, Mella was the bigger loss. He was considered by many to be the organization's top prospect, but he made just eight appearances for the Reds. The big mistake was misevaluating Duvall. He hit for power throughout his minor league career but the Giants didn't think they had a defensive spot for him. The Reds moved him from third to left, where Duvall became an above-average defender and had back-to-back 30-homer seasons as the Giants continued to search for outfield power.
6. Casey McGehee from the Marlins (2014)
Giants receive: 3B Casey McGehee
Marlins receive: RHP Luis Castillo, RHP Kendry Flores
This one would look a lot worse if the Marlins had held onto Castillo, who turned into a budding ace with filthy stuff after being sent to the Reds. As is, it still looks awful. The Giants gave up a couple of lottery tickets to get McGehee, an average-dependent hitter who was supposed to fill the hole left by Pablo Sandoval's departure.
McGehee was a good dude who tried to make it work, but he was DFA'd in late May and then again in June. He hit .213 for the Giants with more double plays than RBI. The mistake the Giants made was not realizing Sandoval's replacement was already on the roster in Matt Duffy, who took over for McGehee and finished second for Rookie of the Year.
5. Orlando Cepeda to Cardinals (1966)
Giants receive: RHP Ray Sadecki
Cardinals receive: 1B Orlando Cepeda
Sure, the Giants traded a 28-year-old future Hall-of-Famer who would win the MVP award and World Series in his first season in St. Louis, but there actually was some logic behind this deal at the time. Cepeda had struggled with knee injuries and was duplicated by Willie McCovey, another Hall-of-Famer, who moved to first full-time and won his own MVP award in 1969.
This one still stings, though, because Sadecki never matched Cepeda's heights after the deal. He was simply solid in San Francisco, going 32-39 with a 3.52 ERA in four years.
4. Jack Clark to Cardinals (1985)
Giants receive: SS Jose Uribe, LHP Dave LaPoint, OF David Green, 1B Gary Rajsich
Cardinals receive: OF Jack Clark
Clark had five 20-homer seasons for the Giants, but they dealt him for four players after a season where he missed three months with a knee injury and the Giants lost 96 games. "We need players; we need starting pitchers," owner Bob Lurie told local columnist Art Spander (who still covers games!). "We're supposed to be getting some top prospects."
Green and LaPointe played one season in San Francisco and Rajsich, hitting .165, was sold back to the Cardinals in July. Uribe played eight seasons for the Giants, primarily at shortstop, and he was a fan favorite -- but he never hit much. Clark was an All-Star twice in St. Louis and finished third in the MVP voting in 1987, when he led the league with a 1.055 OPS.
3. George Foster to Reds (1971)
Giants receive: SS Frank Duffy, RHP Vern Geishert
Reds receive: OF George Foster
The Giants never really gave Foster a chance, dealing the 22-year-old outfielder after just 54 games in the big leagues. It took him a few years to settle in, but ultimately Foster became a key cog of the Big Red Machine, making five All-Star teams and becoming MVP in 1977. He twice led the league in homers.
Duffy played 21 games before being included in another deal that made this list. Geishert never pitched a game for the Giants. This trade was a complete disaster.
2. Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano to Twins (2003)
Giants receive: C A.J. Pierzynski
Twins receive: RHP Boof Bonser, RHP Joe Nathan, LHP Francisco Liriano
Perhaps the most infamous trade in franchise history. Pierzynski hit .272 with 11 homers in his lone season in San Francisco, but he had big issues in the clubhouse. To this day, Giants fans have a negative reaction at the mere mention of Pierzynski, who has returned as a broadcaster for Fox.
Bonser was one of the top 30 prospects in the game but never stuck in the Twins rotation. Liriano was an All-Star in 2006 and ended up making 300 big league starts; he's still around as a lefty reliever. Nathan was the one who really made the deal hurt. He had shown flashes in San Francisco and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting the year after the trade, saving 44 games with a 1.62 ERA. Nathan ended up saving 377 games and making six All-Star teams.
1. Gaylord Perry to Indians (1971)
Giants receive: LHP Sam McDowell
Indians receive: RHP Gaylord Perry, SS Frank Duffy
In a swap of aces, the Giants dealt the 33-year-old Perry for a 29-year-old who had made four consecutive All-Star teams and finished third for the Cy Young in 1970 before demanding a trade. But McDowell's walk rate had skyrocketed the year before the deal and he spent just one season in San Francisco's rotation, going 10-8 with a 4.33 ERA. He was out of the game by 1976.
Perry won the Cy Young Award his first year in Cleveland, throwing 29 complete games and posting a 1.92 ERA. He would pitch until he was 44, winning 180 games for seven franchise after being traded by the Giants. Duffy started at shortstop for the Indians the next six seasons.