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In thick of contention, Giants a buyer

MLB.com @feinsand

The Giants entered Wednesday with a 52-50 record, only 4 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West and four games behind in the Wild Card race.

San Francisco's season has been far from ideal, but the Giants sense an opportunity to play into October, leaving them in buy mode at the Trade Deadline despite their middling record.

The Giants entered Wednesday with a 52-50 record, only 4 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West and four games behind in the Wild Card race.

San Francisco's season has been far from ideal, but the Giants sense an opportunity to play into October, leaving them in buy mode at the Trade Deadline despite their middling record.

"They will be strategic buyers, not sellers," said a source familiar with the team's thinking. "Probably not rentals."

That would seemingly take the Giants out of the mix for the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera, Brian Dozier or Fernando Rodney, but with plenty of controllable players available around the Majors, San Francisco could make some moves to bolster its roster during the next week.

"They're every bit of a .500 team," the source said. "No one move changes their fortune, but they could certainly add to the bullpen and lengthen their lineup."

With only one prospect in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 (OF Heliot Ramos checks in at No. 69), the Giants don't appear to have the blue-chip players necessary to bring back controllable arms such as Raisel Iglesias or Felipe Vazquez.

The Giants remain committed to staying beneath the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold, and even after shedding about $1.5 million with this month's trade of Austin Jackson and his $3 million salary, there doesn't appear to be a lot of wiggle room within the payroll.

Could the Giants make a trade without moving more salary?

"Depends on the deal," the source said.

The Giants should get some help in the form of health as Evan Longoria, Joe Panik, Jeff Samardzija and Hunter Strickland are expected to return from the disabled list in the coming weeks.

With no major acquisitions expected, San Francisco needs Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Andrew McCutchen to play well during the final two months of the regular season if the Giants hope to reach the postseason.

"Their core players need to step up," the source said. "Staying healthy is a must."

That hasn't been easy this season. Samardzija, Panik, Strickland, Longoria, Pence, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Mark Melancon have all spent at least five weeks on the DL this season.

Even if the Giants tumble in the next few days and change their minds, there's not a lot for them to sell. The only players with expiring contracts are McCutchen, Hunter Pence, Nick Hundley and Derek Holland, none of whom figure to bring back any system-altering prospects.

"They're pretty much stuck," one talent evaluator said. "They may as well try to make a late-season run, because there aren't really other alternatives."

Mark Feinsand, executive reporter for MLB.com, has covered the Yankees and MLB since 2001 for the New York Daily News and MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants