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Giants in mix despite up-and-down first half

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are two games above .500, yet that's good enough for contention in the balanced National League West.

The Giants' upbeat outlook is also a matter of perspective. Entering last year's All-Star break, they owned a 34-56 record and trailed the first-place Dodgers by 27 games in the division standings.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are two games above .500, yet that's good enough for contention in the balanced National League West.

The Giants' upbeat outlook is also a matter of perspective. Entering last year's All-Star break, they owned a 34-56 record and trailed the first-place Dodgers by 27 games in the division standings.

The Giants' belief that they can compete with the three teams ahead of them in the NL West race is fueled by their performance against them. San Francisco is 7-5 against Arizona and 7-6 against the Dodgers. The Giants are 5-8 against Colorado, but that includes a 4-3 mark at home.

Current status: Buyer
Historically, the Giants declare themselves open to upgrades before the non-waiver Trade Deadline unless they're hopelessly out of contention, as they were last year. Rarely does July turn to August without some sort of deal by San Francisco.

What they are seeking
The Giants could use another big bat, probably a left fielder, who would enable them to use Gorkys Hernandez as a fourth outfielder, which would be an ideal role for him. San Francisco also would welcome a durable reliever to lighten the load shouldered by setup men Sam Dyson, Reyes Moronta and Tony Watson. The Giants might even search for a closer who would enable Will Smith to return to a setup role.

What they have to offer
The Giants could try to interest sellers in Triple-A right-handers Chris Stratton, who has enjoyed success at the Major League level, or Tyler Beede, who has shown potential. San Francisco may attempt to "showcase" left fielder Hunter Pence by giving him a few extra starts and hoping he gets hot so another contending team might view him as a formidable bat off the bench.

Possible scenario
Pence would draw interest only if a ballclub had a specific need -- that is, due to an injury. Moreover, the Giants likely would have to assume a significant portion of the remainder of his $18.5 million salary. Since relief pitching promises to be a desirable commodity in this market, the Giants might try to prompt interest in Mark Melancon, who's showing more of the form that led the Giants to commit $62 million over four years to him before last season. Then again, the Giants might want Melancon around to help prevent their setup crew from overuse.

In fact, the Giants might do nothing by the Deadline, given their adherence to the projected payroll limits outlined by the Competitive Balance Tax. Third baseman Evan Longoria's impending return from a fractured left hand could provide the big bat the club needs. Similarly, Hunter Strickland could reinforce the bullpen crew once he recovers from his broken right hand. The Giants also might turn more frequently to Melancon and rookie Ray Black in medium- to high-leverage situations.

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.

San Francisco Giants