Day before Deadline, SF rallies late for win

August 31st, 2020

The Giants are off on Monday, but it could still end up being a busy day for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

With Monday’s 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline looming, Zaidi and the rest of San Francisco’s front office will be tasked with striking a balance between the club’s present and future needs. The Giants appeared on track to be sellers after going 8-16 to start the season, but they’ve revived their postseason hopes by winning nine of their past 12 games to catapult themselves back into the wide-open National League Wild Card race.

San Francisco made its final pitch to stay together with a 4-1 win over Arizona on Sunday at Chase Field, which clinched the club’s first series victory on the road this season.

homered and delivered a go-ahead RBI single to spark the Giants’ decisive three-run rally in the eighth inning, while rebounded from a tough outing to strike out six over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth to earn his first career save.

Dickerson said the Trade Deadline hasn’t been a hot topic of conversation in the Giants’ clubhouse, as “it snuck up on us so fast,” though he acknowledged that the club’s recent run has likely created tough decisions for management.

“I don't envy what they have to do, as far as deciding or anything,” Dickerson said. “I know that we're confident with the group that we have now. That's all we can really focus on. If we add somebody new, if we lose somebody, you still go out and you try to win baseball games and get to the playoffs. We are in a position where we can make that happen.”

The Giants head into the Trade Deadline two games below .500 at 17-19, as their postseason odds now stand at 38 percent, according to FanGraphs. Zaidi will have to decide whether to make moves to bolster the current roster to try to sneak into the expanded 16-team postseason, trade veterans on expiring contracts for younger prospects or do a mix of both.

“We're obviously in a position where we're thinking not just about the present, but about the future,” Zaidi told KNBR on Wednesday. “If we have a chance to add some long-term pieces, that's certainly something that we're going to look at. But we feel pretty good about the position the team is in right now, so I think we might just make a baseball deal, a need-for-need deal.”

If the Giants choose to add, Zaidi said he will be on the hunt for another left-handed bat, as well as a right-handed reliever to help add more balance to the bullpen, which skews left-handed. San Francisco could receive interest on players like Kevin Gausman and Tony Watson, both of whom will be eligible for free agency at the end of the year.

Cueto has also been mentioned as a trade candidate, but his hefty contract will make him more difficult to move, as he’s owed $21 million next year, on top of a $5 million buyout option for 2022. The 34-year-old veteran didn’t sound overly concerned about his status heading into the Trade Deadline.

“I wasn’t thinking about it,” Cueto said in Spanish. “I like being here, but if they want to trade me, that’s their decision.”

Cueto gave up six runs over four innings in his last start against the Dodgers on Tuesday as he struggled to get on the same page with rookie catcher Joey Bart. But Cueto looked more comfortable working with backup catcher Chadwick Tromp on Sunday. He didn't allow a run through six innings and finished with only three hits allowed, although one of those was a game-tying home run by Eduardo Escobar in the seventh.

Still, the Giants didn’t allow Cueto's quality start to go to waste, as they scored three runs in the eighth, a rally capped by Evan Longoria's two-run single.

“He knows how I pitch,” Cueto said of Tromp. “I like to work fast. He knows my sequence. I have to practice more with Bart. [Tromp] and I work well together because he knows my pitches and he’s caught me six or seven times. I feel comfortable. When you have a catcher like that that makes you feel comfortable, you don’t have to force it as much.”

Manager Gabe Kapler said the Trade Deadline hasn’t really come up in his recent discussions with Zaidi or general manager Scott Harris, but he believes the Giants are capable of sustaining their postseason push as presently constructed.

“I like this team,” Kapler said. “A lot of things have to line up, but I believe in this group.”