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Inbox: Can Giants move large contracts?

Beat reporter Chris Haft answers San Francisco fans' questions
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

What would it take to unload a heavy contract such as Jeff Samardzija's, Mark Melancon's or even Brandon Belt's? Will the Giants have to attach a decent prospect to get teams to bite like they did with the Cory Gearrin/Austin Jackson trade to the Rangers?
-- Mo L., Sunnyvale, Calif.

Even a lukewarm prospect tends to sweeten any deal. Every team values "controllable" assets -- that is, players who are years away from becoming eligible for free agency.

What would it take to unload a heavy contract such as Jeff Samardzija's, Mark Melancon's or even Brandon Belt's? Will the Giants have to attach a decent prospect to get teams to bite like they did with the Cory Gearrin/Austin Jackson trade to the Rangers?
-- Mo L., Sunnyvale, Calif.

Even a lukewarm prospect tends to sweeten any deal. Every team values "controllable" assets -- that is, players who are years away from becoming eligible for free agency.

But the bigger issue you're asking about involves trading a player with a perceived "bad" contract, in which the value of the deal exceeds the player's value to the ballclub. It can be done, though extreme measures must be taken. The club must either agree to pay a significant portion of the player's salary, or it must accept a player with a similarly overpriced contract in return. In the Giants' case, they might be willing to acquire an overpaid hitter to part with an overpaid pitcher.

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Would the Giants field this lineup for the majority of next season: Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Alen Hanson, Brandon Crawford, Ryder Jones, Mac Williamson, Steven Duggar, Austin Slater and a startinng rotation led by Madison Bumgarner, Derek Holland and Dereck Rodriguez? I could sit through another season of disappointment knowing we're changing into prospects. I wouldn't even call it "disappointment" if they developed a solid team again, and if more prospects can fill the roles. But the Giants have seemed to let familiar faces repeat the same mediocre performance for the last three seasons.
-- Keith B., Adelaide, Calif.

Though your proposed lineup might be subject to debate, you're articulating a basic feeling that I suspect many Giants fans share -- give them a team that's at least hustling and entertaining and can generate hope.

I'm not implying that the Giants' effort is lacking. But I do believe that fans will refuse to accept a 2019 team that features many of the same faces, even if Posey and Duggar are at full health. Expect the Giants to enter the Bryce Harper free-agency sweepstakes (not out of the question since they made bids for Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani last offseason). And even if they don't trade Bumgarner, the Giants must explore the possibility by discovering what other clubs would be willing to give up for him.

Who's to blame for the club's offensive woes -- the hitting coaches or the players? How does it get fixed?
-- Rod B., Maple Grove, Minn.

Regardless of the sport, team success always comes down to the players. Giants hitting coach Alonzo Powell and his assistant, Rick Schu, have been part of highly productive offenses. Through playing and coaching, they've learned what to look for when they analyze a swing and everything that leads up to it.

There's only so much that a hitting coach can do, anyway. As a hitting coach with a National League club told me, "My job is to make sure that when each guy leaves the batting cage, he feels like he's hot stuff." He used a phrase that was saltier than "hot stuff," but you get the point. Hitting coaches prepare. Hitters perform.

Are there any possible shakeups coming in the front office or dugout due to four years of mediocre baseball?
-- Jason W., Trafford, England

Anything's possible, which I realize tells you nothing. I will say that the Giants pride themselves on the continuity of their personnel from top to bottom. My gut feeling is that the current management team will remain in place through at least the start of the 2019 season. If the team is still struggling by next year's All-Star break, expect changes.

Is it just my imagination or have the Giants given up a lot more unearned runs this year than in their championship years?
-- Wally H., Vista, Calif.

We'll be happy to do the math for you. The numbers demonstrate that your imagination is a tad overactive.

The Giants have allowed 55 unearned runs this year. During their 2010 World Series-winning season, they permitted just 37. But they surrendered 56 unearned runs in '12 and 50 in '14 -- their other two World Series campaigns this decade. The difference between now and then, at least in this category, is negligible.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

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