SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants used 64 players at the big league level, DFA'd plenty from the Opening Day roster and said goodbye to longtime second baseman Joe Panik late in the year. This was a season of transition, and there were dozens upon dozens of decisions to analyze.
But as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi looks back, there's one that stands out from his first year. Asked about regrets earlier this week, Zaidi took a long pause and noted that he's constantly auditing every decision.
"The thing that I spend a lot of time thinking about is just going back to July 31 and the way the trade deadline unfolded," he said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. "I feel like I alternate nights losing sleep about not potentially buying at the deadline and trying to improve our chances this year, or selling more at the deadline and setting ourselves up better for 2020 and going forward."
The Giants ultimately played it somewhat down the middle. A stunning July run put them back over .500 and in a crowded wild-card pack, so Zaidi held Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith -- two of the bigger pieces on the market -- to give retiring manager Bruce Bochy a chance down the stretch. At the same time, he shockingly got the Atlanta Braves to take on Mark Melancon's salary and turned a couple of solid Drew Pomeranz performances into Mauricio Dubon. Sam Dyson was also dealt for prospects.
Looking back on that decision-making, Zaidi noted that the Giants couldn't count on beating out all the other teams in the NL Wild Card chase at the time. But this season wasn't about getting a high draft pick and loading up on prospects at any cost. Team officials repeatedly said that they wanted to compete as long as possible.
"I do think there are two separate goals between actually making the playoffs and being involved in the playoff chase," Zaidi said during a season-ending press conference. "If we had been basically in the wild-card race until the last weekend of the season and things hadn't gone well, I still would have felt like we achieved a lot of our goals of playing meaningful baseball as deep into the season as possible.
"I feel like we made some trades that are going to set us up better for 2020 and beyond, but we also kept a lot of the ingredients that had gotten our team to the point of being in contention in place."
The fear within the organization was that the July bubble would burst, and that did happen. But the Giants were still at .500 on Aug. 26 and hanging around in the race after sweeping a weekend series with the A's.
"On August 26, I was really happy we still had Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith on our team and felt like those guys gave us a chance," Zaidi said. "It didn't turn out the way we wanted and we didn't have the September we wanted, but I think we owed it to our fans and to Boch and to the players to keep those guys and give us a shot to continue what we had accomplished in July leading up to the deadline."