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Giants holding big trade chip in Bumgarner

@mi_guardado
July 10, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a disappointing start to the season, the Giants closed out the first half on an optimistic note, winning seven of their final nine games and showcasing an entertaining brand of baseball that helped assuage some of the frustration that had set in earlier in the year.

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a disappointing start to the season, the Giants closed out the first half on an optimistic note, winning seven of their final nine games and showcasing an entertaining brand of baseball that helped assuage some of the frustration that had set in earlier in the year.

The Giants hope to ride that momentum into the second half, but their recent run has the potential to complicate the team’s approach to the July 31 Trade Deadline. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said his goal is to play meaningful baseball as deep into the season as possible, and after going 19-14 since June 1, the Giants now find themselves 5 1/2 games out of the National League Wild Card race, albeit with a throng of teams ahead of them in the standings.

In a 20-minute session with reporters Sunday, Zaidi said he still hasn’t committed to a specific course of action, as he wants to see how San Francisco continues to play in the final three weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline.

“We don't feel like we have to do anything, or there are X number of things that we have to accomplish by July 31,” Zaidi said. “I think when you put yourself in that position, you create sort of unnecessary pressure and maybe panic to do something that isn't in your long-term interest.”

The Giants’ position will continue to come into focus over the rest of the month, but here’s a look at where they stand at the All-Star break.

Current status: Sellers
The Giants need an infusion of young talent, and the quickest way to do that is to move players on expiring contracts at the Trade Deadline for impactful pieces that can become part of the club’s future. Still, given San Francisco's recent success, Zaidi made it clear that he won’t feel compelled to subtract from his Major League roster if he feels he isn’t getting fair offers in return.

“I feel like people talk about some of these decisions like they're very black and white and that we're up against a wall,” Zaidi said. “And we don't feel that way at all. It's always a good thing when you have players that other teams want, but that usually means that you want them yourself. We’re going to have to see how these next few weeks go, but we don’t feel we have any imperatives over these last few weeks. A lot of it's going to be shaped by how we play.”

What they are seeking
The Giants feel they have a promising crop of prospects moving through the lower levels of their farm system, headlined by catcher Joey Bart, outfielder Heliot Ramos and shortstop Marco Luciano, so they will be looking for more polished players who are closer to contributing at the Major League level. Outfielders and starting pitchers will likely be of particular interest to San Francisco.

“When you go out and make your traditional deal as a seller, a lot of times you are looking at those guys further down the system in A-ball, Short Season, Rookie ball,” Zaidi said. “And that’s kind of an area of strength for us now. It’s possible that if we wind up having some of these conversations, we’re going to be looking at more guys at the upper levels. And then that kind of becomes less of a true seller-type deal, because those guys can probably help you, even this year.”

Zaidi also didn’t rule out making a deal like the Giants’ trade for Kevin Pillar at the beginning of the season, where they sent Alen Hanson, Derek Law and pitching prospect Juan De Paula to Toronto in exchange for an established center fielder who could become an immediate fixture on the Major League roster.

What they have to offer
The Giants’ most prominent trade chips are left-hander Madison Bumgarner and All-Star closer Will Smith, though they have a couple of other bullpen pieces that could be attractive to contenders, such as veterans Tony Watson and Sam Dyson. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz and infielder Pablo Sandoval are also impending free agents who could draw outside interest.

Possible scenario
The Braves are looking for starting and relieving help, so it’s possible that they could make a play for Bumgarner and/or Smith. Atlanta has a deep farm system and can offer the type of upper-level prospects the Giants are looking for in Double-A outfielders Cristian Pache and Drew Waters and starting pitchers Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson, so perhaps there’s a match there.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.