Starting pitching a trade priority for SF

July 10th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- The July 30 Trade Deadline is less than three weeks away, but Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he hasn’t engaged in too much dialogue with other clubs about potential deals yet.

Like most teams, the Giants are currently focused on the 2021 MLB Draft, which will run from Sunday to Tuesday. After that, though, Zaidi and the rest of San Francisco’s front office are expected to devote more attention to trade targets and other possible moves they can make to shore up a roster that has surprisingly carried the Giants to the top of the National League West this season.

Regardless of any external additions, the Giants are already expecting to receive a wave of reinforcements after the All-Star break, when Buster Posey, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, Tommy La Stella, Aaron Sanchez and Reyes Moronta are slated to come off the injured list. The Giants will have to find spots on their 26-man roster for those returning players, too, and Zaidi said he’s hesitant to make any drastic moves that might disrupt the internal dynamic that his club is currently enjoying.

“We really like our team,” Zaidi said Friday. “We like the way the pieces on this team fit. This is some of the best clubhouse team chemistry that I've ever been around. Anytime you talk about [moves], it's kind of fun to speculate, but there's a very real impact on the clubhouse.

“I've been through a number of Trade Deadlines and made some trades that looked really good on paper, but maybe didn't feel great. If you kind of stumble a little bit, you start wondering, ‘Was that the right move for us to make, to change a mix that we really liked?’ That's going to be a big part of our conversation.”

Not that there isn’t room for improvement, especially when it comes to the Giants’ starting pitching depth. Tyler Beede is back after completing his rehab from Tommy John surgery, and Logan Webb made an encouraging return off the IL by firing three scoreless innings against the Nationals on Friday, but the Giants could still use more upper-level depth to guard against a rash of injuries to their talented starting rotation, which has been one of the best in baseball this year.

“I would say projecting out, what I'm most worried about is just the starting pitching,” Zaidi said. “That's the toughest area to cover if you wind up having injuries. It's just the most important thing to maintaining continuity. I would say that pitching depth, particularly starting depth, is sort of the biggest ongoing concern.”

Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood, Johnny Cueto and Sanchez will be eligible for free agency at the end of the year, but Zaidi said he isn’t prioritizing adding a controllable starter who could help address the Giants’ short-term and long-term rotation needs this month. Landing players of that ilk, such as the Twins’ José Berríos, would require a haul of young talent, and Zaidi said the Giants will be mindful about giving up any of the prospect depth that the organization has worked hard to build up in recent years.

“We feel really good about the way we're playing, and if there's the right opportunity to add to this team, I think we have a little bit of a different mindset than we did in 2019,” Zaidi said. “But I think we're still going to be careful with anything that's involving our long-term plan, some of the younger guys that we have that we’re really excited about.”

Zaidi noted that the Giants already have interest in re-signing several of their own impending free agents to secure a level of continuity in their rotation heading into next year. A new deal for Gausman should be at the top of the list, though the 30-year-old right-hander is poised to cash in this winter after logging a 1.74 ERA over 17 starts and earning his first career All-Star selection in 2021.

“The way we’re playing, I think we’re going to be motivated to keep a lot of these guys beyond this year,” Zaidi said. “We think about that as much as we think about what we might do in the next three weeks -- how do we keep this group together that’s had so much success?”