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4 significant offseason trades by Giants

Following losing campaign, San Francisco has track record of making move
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

The Giants should adopt Isaac Newton's famed third law as their offseason mantra: For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

That is, they could ponder making a dramatic move to offset their sudden descent from postseason contender to last place in the National League West for the first time since 2007.

The Giants should adopt Isaac Newton's famed third law as their offseason mantra: For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

That is, they could ponder making a dramatic move to offset their sudden descent from postseason contender to last place in the National League West for the first time since 2007.

An incremental approach to reversing the team's fortunes might prove time-consuming, as the Giants should know. After beginning their San Francisco tenure with 14 consecutive winning seasons (1958-71), the Giants missed the postseason for 15 years in a row.

So a bold player transaction could galvanize the Giants' improvement from this year's 64-98 finish and reassert their presence in a division that featured three postseason qualifiers.

Signing a free agent will be challenging, since the Giants already are contributing to the Competitive Balance Tax due to their high payroll.

The Giants will have the Draft's No. 2 overall pick next June; the last time they chose that high was 1985. They selected Will Clark, who made an immediate impact. But even the brightest prospects couldn't approach Clark's timetable.

That leaves engineering a trade as the Giants' best option for improving their roster quickly.

They've been linked to Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton. But Stanton's full no-trade clause and the $295 million he's guaranteed through 2028 make his contract daunting.

Consolation prizes include Stanton's Marlins teammates such as outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. The club's new ownership has indicated that it must trim payroll.

But any deal of that nature could force the Giants to include someone they'd prefer not to trade, such as second baseman Joe Panik or right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

The Giants may listen to offers for left-hander Madison Bumgarner, whose April dirt-bike accident left him perched precariously on his "untouchable" status, if he didn't fall off it entirely. Catcher Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford might be the only Giants immune to a trade.

The Giants have relied primarily on free agency to make key offseason acquisitions. Exchanging Andres Torres for Angel Pagan in a swap of outfielders with the Mets at the 2011 Winter Meetings was their last noteworthy offseason trade.

History proves that the Giants can engineer big deals between seasons. Here's a review of the most significant and recent offseason trades that the Giants have made following a losing year.

1. March 15, 1978
Giants acquire LHP Vida Blue from A's for C Gary Alexander, 1B-OF Gary Thomasson, LHP John Henry Johnson and RHPs Dave Heaverlo, Phil Huffman, Alan Wirth, $300,000 and a player to be named (INF Mario Guerrero).

Background, results: The euphoria of blocking a move to Toronto two years earlier was wearing off. The Giants, a sub-.500 club for four consecutive years, needed to win. Their already respectable starting staff lacked a true ace. So they acquired Blue, who won 18 games that year, helped the Giants improve from 75-87 to 89-73 and remained their No. 1 starter through 1981.

This was a prime example of quantity for quality. Of the seven players the A's acquired, only Guerrero, who accumulated a -0.8 WAR from 1978-80, and Wirth, who compiled a 6-6 record in 23 appearances over the same span, lasted more than two years with the team.

2. Feb. 27, 1984
Giants acquire OF Al Oliver from Expos for RHP Fred Breining, OF Max Venable and a player to be named (RHP Andy McGaffigan).

Background and results: The Giants ranked second in the NL with 142 home runs and fourth with 687 runs in 1983. But they sought a left-handed-batting replacement for third baseman Darrell Evans, who fled to Detroit via free agency. Oliver, the club believed, would nicely complement Bob Brenly, Jack Clark, Chili Davis and Jeffrey Leonard. "Hackers around a hitter," was how then-pitcher Mike Krukow described it. Oliver batted .298 but hit zero home runs in 360 plate appearances. He finished the season in Montreal.

3. Feb. 1, 1985
Giants acquire 1B David Green, LHP Dave LaPoint, UT Gary Rajsich and SS Jose Uribe from Cardinals for RF Jack Clark.

Background and results: Here's another quantity-for-quality deal. But Clark kept thriving; the Giants' acquisitions didn't. Believed to be older than his listed age of 24, Green produced a .248/.301/.347 slash line while totaling five homers and 20 RBIs in 106 games. Rajsich provided a .165/.296/.231 slash line instead of much-needed depth. LaPoint finished 7-17 and probably would have fared better with any other team. He pitched 206 2/3 innings and built a respectable 3.57 ERA.

The trade was worthwhile for the Giants in one aspect. They got Uribe, their top shortstop during the 1986-90 renaissance led by manager Roger Craig and general manager Al Rosen.

4. Nov. 13, 1996
Giants acquire 2B Jeff Kent, RHP Julian Tavarez, INF Jose Vizcaino and a player to be named (RHP Joe Roa) from the Indians for 3B Matt Williams and a player to be named (UT Trent Hubbard).

Background and results: The Giants approached the 1997 season with Barry Bonds and Williams due to earn $8.6 million and $7.1 million, respectively. To manage his budget, general manager Brian Sabean had to make the excruciating decision of parting with one of them. The Giants elected to jettison Williams, enraging numerous fans. They calmed down when Kent emerged as an offensive dynamo. Tavarez and Vizcaino became important figures for the 1997 NL West division winners, who became the fourth team in Major League history to win a title after finishing last the year before.

Thus, the Giants know that a turnaround is possible.

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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