Dallas Keuchel

Why Farhan Zaidi says there's 'strategic advantage' to Giants-Dodgers trade

Why Farhan Zaidi says there's 'strategic advantage' to Giants-Dodgers trade

The Giants are 17 games back of the NL West-leading Dodgers, and the calendar just hit June.

They're not catching their longtime division rivals. That's been obvious for months, perhaps even before the season began.

But might they trade with them?

Woah. Wait a second. That's not cool. The hate is too strong, right?

Since 1958, the Giants and Dodgers have teamed up on just three trades. But in a radio interview Thursday, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi explained why fans shouldn't rule out the possibility of a fourth deal.

"There is an interesting point here,” Zaidi said on KNBR's "Tolbert & Lund" show Thursday. “If we do end up in a position where we’re selling and looking to get some future talent, you actually want to be trading in the division because you want to weaken your rivals in future years, and you want them to push more chips into the present. In a way, it actually benefits you more."

If anyone knows what the Dodgers have in store for the future, it's Zaidi, who spent the previous four seasons as Los Angeles' general manager. Now on the San Francisco side of the rivalry, Zaidi understands why fans might not be wild about the idea of trading with the Dodgers.

"I understand there’s all kinds of emotional baggage going with that,” Zaidi conceded. “Maybe the Dodgers are a special case, and I think most fans would say it’s not maybe, they just are a special case. But in general, I actually think trading in the division has a strategic advantage."

Aside from the strategic advantage, the Giants might have more reason to consider trading with their division rivals after two major free agents signed with teams Thursday. The Cubs landed closer Craig Kimbrel, and the Braves reportedly agreed to terms with starter Dallas Keuchel. For the teams that missed out on those two veterans, Zaidi expects to be hearing from them soon.

"[Those two being off the market] does show the teams that were in on those guys — it kind of identifies who the buyers are going to be in the starting-pitcher market and the relief market,” Zaidi said. “Certainly for the teams that did not land those players, they’re going to be looking elsewhere to try to fill those needs. So I expect there’ll be a lot more phone calls between GMs these next couple weeks."

[RELATED: Anderson shows resilience but not enough in Giants' loss]

Zaidi also issued a reminder that, because of a recent rule change, teams have more reason to start trade talks sooner rather than later.

"Again, without trade waivers this coming August, it’s going to put more pressure on teams to get their business done before July 31,” he said.

The Giants most certainly will be sellers. They clearly can't compete with the Dodgers in the present. But if a trade with Los Angeles can help them do so down the line, it's something worth considering.

How Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel free agency decisions could impact Giants


How Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel free agency decisions could impact Giants

NEW YORK -- Madison Bumgarner had happily answered a couple of questions about Bruce Bochy's 1,000th win when he was hit with one that brought a sour look to his face.

A local reporter, apparently unaware of the importance of the night to the players, asked Bumgarner how he would feel about playing for the Yankees. 

Bumgarner looked back at the nameplate on his locker and the Giants jersey hanging there. 

"I'm pretty sure we're still in the Giants clubhouse," he said. "And I'm here trying to win games for this club."

Whether they like it or not, plenty of Giants will be involved with rumors before the July 31 deadline, and as the players and their fans start to pay attention to the trade winds, they should take note of some action over the coming week. 

Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel somewhat duplicate the best of what Farhan Zaidi has to offer to other teams, and their decisions -- said to be coming soon -- could impact Zaidi's options over the next two months. At midnight on Sunday, the draft pick compensation -- both players received qualifying offers from their previous teams -- was lifted, opening the door for true free agency for both. 

Keuchel seems to be closer to signing, and the left-handed starter could fill a Bumgarner-sized hole for a contender. The Yankees are said to be the favorites, per national reporters, but the Padres, Brewers, and Phillies are often rumored to be potential homes, and all four of those teams also could look at Bumgarner before July 31. Signing Keuchel to a one-year prorated deal could take a contender out of the Bumgarner market. 

Kimbrel is not at all a comparison to Will Smith in terms of style, but they're two of the best closers available before the deadline. There's a big difference here, though. Kimbrel is not believed to be seeking a short-term deal, so if a contender is looking for a cheaper solution in the ninth, Smith -- having an excellent year and owed just the balance of his $4.225 million salary -- would be an attractive alternative. 

[RELATED: Bochy celebrates 1,000th managerial win]

The Braves have often been rumored as a Kimbrel destination, and they also seem to be the best fit for Smith, who lives in Atlanta in the offseason. The Phillies, Twins, and Cubs are also matches, and some in the industry think the Cubs have become the favorites. 

Somebody is going to end up with a top-of-the-rotation lefty starter soon, and someone will add a dominant closer. The Giants won't be involved with either, but you can bet they'll be keeping a close eye on the two All-Stars who remain available. 

MLB free agency: It's Feb. 1, and these marquee names remain unsigned

MLB free agency: It's Feb. 1, and these marquee names remain unsigned

Welcome to February, where a majority of MLB free agents have yet to be signed. Baseball will take place this month in Arizona and Florida as spring training gets underway, and some of the biggest names in the game remained unemployed.

Yes, the two major names that haven't signed the dotted line yet are Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, but there are so many others.

Nationals closer Sean Doolittle and the Giants' own Evan Longoria were very open about the frustrating offseason and lack of signings.

With that being said, just how many guys are available? Well, let's take a look.

Dallas Keuchel, SP

Keuchel was the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner and despite a bit of a hangover in 2016, he managed to make his way back with the Astros and help them win a World Series in 2017. His strikeouts per nine innings dropped last season, but his 3.74 ERA is not a characteristic of the type of pitcher he is. 

Note: On Thursday, the Astros signed pitcher Wade Miley to a one-year, $4.5 million deal. And it was reported the team is still interested in bringing Keuchel back to Houston: 

Craig Kimbrel, CL

It's Craig Kimbrel. This guy makes most pray for the batter when he runs out to the mound from the bullpen. He earned his seventh All-Star selection last season with a 2.74 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. He's going to want a lot of money -- an astronomical amount of money. And what pitcher doesn't?

But he has to be one of the best closers you've ever seen.

Marwin Gonzalez, OF

Watching Marwin Gonzalez in 2017 with the Astros was a true pleasure. He finished that season with a .303 batting average and a .226 ISO. He turns 30 in March, which, unfortunately, could be a way to talk teams out of signing him to a multi-year deal, but the guy is oozing with talent. 

Nick Hundley, C

Giants fans are very familiar with Nick Hundley -- and not just from that one Yasiel Puig confrontation. He spent his last couple seasons with the team, and while he's never had numbers that stood out (besides a stint with the Rockies in 2015, but I'm sure you'll say "Coors") he's always managed to have a job.

Adam Jones, OF

I had to do a doubletake. I forgot Adam Jones was a free agent since talk of former Orioles has been centered around Machado, but Jones is a sensational player. 

Jones loves Baltimore. So much so, he actually purchased Cal Ripken Jr.'s former home in the area in addition to his house in his hometown of San Diego. Before you get in my mentions about him buying a house in a place where he played half of his games each year, it's more than that. He and his wife, Audie, who grew up in Baltimore, are very active in the community. 

The O's are coming off a terrible season (47-115 in 2018) so having him go back to the team seems farfetched. And him to the Padres? Well, maybe not. But, MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal did say on Thursday that a lot of teams are taking time and it's possible it's because of the Harper signing -- or lack thereof.

Sergio Romo, RP

Romo pitched as a member of the Giants for nine seasons where he earned an All-Star selection in 2013. He was known for coming out of the bullpen and being dominant, but he did make his first career start in his major league career with the Rays last season. against the Angels. He tossed one inning, striking out three.

It's a small sample size, but it shows he's up for anything. A one-year deal for him to boost the bullpen could happen.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF

CarGo is 33, but when it comes to him, his age is not a factor by any means. The guy plays like he's still in his 20's. He spent a decade with the Rockies, and by taking a look at his splits, I could see it being scary for a team not named the Rockies wanting to acquire him. A .323 batting average at home and a .251 average when he's on the road.

Still, the three-time All-Star had a difficult outfield to roam, just ask Larry Walker -- covering Coors isn't anything easy.

He needs to be signed.

Brett Anderson, SP 

Yes, Brett Anderson is funny on Twitter, but the guy was pretty impressive last season when he was back with the A's. He lowered his ERA to 4.48 which is exceptionally better than most of his previous seasons. 

The A's were one of the recent teams to show interest in the lefty again and he could provide some depth, but at the moment, nothing has come to fruition.

Bartolo Colon, SP 

We all want Barolo Colon to play for our favorite team. If not now, you will eventually -- even just to sell tickets.

It appears the 45-year-old refuses to hang up his cleats, and after throwing 146.1 innings last season with the Rangers, he's pretty resilient. And he wants to come back in 2019

Hunter Pence, OF

In an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area in December, Hunter Pence was very open in a reunion with the Giants and a few teams have reached out. But he spoke to Larry Baer personally, and he's been working hard in the offseason to make sure he has a chance to play again. 

Gio Gonzalez, SP

A guy also familiar with the Bay Area is Gio Gonzalez who spent four seasons with the A's. In his final season with the green and gold, he earned his first of two career All-Star selections and was in the Cy Young Award talk a couple times throughout his career.

The list continues ...

Devin Mesoraco, Rene Rivera, Logan Morrison, Andrew Romine, Josh Harrison, Logan Forsythe, Danny Valencia, Matt Joyce just to name a few ... 

There are many more still left, waiting to get the call a team wants them. Concurrently, there are plenty of spots to fill on major league rosters and they may have to wait until spring training has already begun ...