Giants could be buyers come Trade Deadline

May 13th, 2021

Entering the regular season, the Giants profiled as potential sellers at the 2021 Trade Deadline, particularly because their roster featured several veterans on expiring contracts who could be flipped for prospects if the club found itself struggling to stay afloat in the loaded National League West.

But that perception is beginning to change -- the Giants are in first place in the NL West with a 22-14 mark and tied with the Cardinals for the best record in the NL entering Wednesday. There is plenty of baseball left to be played, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi suggested he wouldn’t shy away from adding at the July 30 Trade Deadline if the Giants continue to show that they’re here to stay.

“I go back to last year, where we were facing a lot of these questions like, ‘Oh, are the Giants going to sell?’” Zaidi said on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks" show on Tuesday. “The guys play this game, the coaches coach the game and people in the front office put in the hours we do because you want to be in it. You want to have a competitive team. When fortune breaks your way and when hard work pays off like it has -- and look, we're not taking victory laps. We're not even a quarter of the way through the season, but if we can continue to play this way, then we're going to want to see it through.”

Zaidi said he considered adding a left-handed bat to bolster his club’s lineup at last year’s Trade Deadline, but the Giants ultimately didn’t make any big acquisitions, instead opting to hold on to potential trade chips like Kevin Gausman and Tony Watson to give the team a chance to sustain its playoff push down the stretch. The Giants ended up finishing the pandemic-shortened, 60-game campaign with a 29-31 record, falling one win shy of their first postseason berth since 2016.

“Last year, we talked a lot about looking to add a left-handed bat to the mix, which, frankly, might have been the difference for us when you look at some of the games we had,” Zaidi said.

That experience will likely inform how Zaidi approaches the upcoming Trade Deadline. If the Giants end up fading from contention, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them entertain offers for veteran starters like Johnny Cueto, Anthony DeSclafani and Gausman, who will all be eligible for free agency at the end of the season. But if they’re still in the playoff hunt in July, Zaidi will look to be opportunistic and seek upgrades for his roster.

“I think if we continue to play this way, it's not just a question of selling, it's a question of buying,” Zaidi said. “It doesn't have to be going out there and getting the piece that everybody's talking about at the Trade Deadline. A lot of the best deals in July are the ones where you add a complementary piece that really addresses an area of need and can really clean up the roster. We'll be looking at all those things, but it's really early. I don't think we're positioning ourselves as a buyer or seller, but we're in this to be competitive. I think you'd like to reward a clubhouse and a group that's playing well like the way our guys are now.”

The Giants have worked diligently to develop a promising crop of young talent in their rising farm system, so it would be hard to see Zaidi parting with a blue-chip prospect unless he’s able to land an impactful player who could address both short and long-term needs for the club.

Like most baseball fans, Zaidi said he’s been reveling in the return of Minor League Baseball and has been tuning into MiLB.TV to keep tabs on the Giants’ top prospects, like outfielder Heliot Ramos, who entered Wednesday batting .429 with a 1.377 OPS and two home runs over his first six games with Double-A Richmond. Ramos, the Giants’ 2017 first-round Draft pick, is ranked as the club’s No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

"He's obviously off to a great start, and in a park that's not that easy to hit in," Zaidi said. "That Richmond park is a pitcher's park. He's been off to a great start. [Logan] Wyatt, Will Wilson's also swinging the bat really well for Eugene, our new affiliate in High-A. Like we've talked about, some of these placements out of the gate might be a little bit conservative, but in the next few weeks, we will probably be looking to move some guys up if they can keep up this early pace.”