With less than 24 hours remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Giants are wrestling with the decision as to whether they should buy or sell.
They haven’t quite pinned down their exact plans, but it’s unlikely general manager Bobby Evans and vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean will make any drastic decisions.
The Giants are 6 1/2 games out in the National League West and six games out of the second wild-card spot. Their recent play hasn’t given the front office or ownership group reason to believe that they have the makings to earn a playoff berth.
As they prepare to start a two-game series in San Diego, the Giants’ roster could be in flux as the club must make several roster decisions that aren’t related to buying or selling.
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Here are three things to watch for:
Will the Giants sneak in a pre-deadline trade?
Time is running out for the Giants to add or subtract before the non-waiver deadline, but it’s easier to envision the front office waiting until August to fully embrace “sell” mode.
The Giants were never planning on trading Madison Bumgarner, and there will be opportunities to move Andrew McCutchen next month on waivers if they fall completely out of the race. Other players who might net the Giants a prospect or two include Sam Dyson and Derek Holland, who could also be on the post-deadline trade radar if the price is right.
With a long list of relievers from selling clubs still available, it’s difficult to envision the Giants floating Tony Watson or Will Smith out to contending teams and having them make an offer Evans and Sabean simply can’t refuse.
The franchise is committed to remaining under the luxury tax threshold and if players like Johnny Cueto and Pablo Sandoval end up on the disabled list, it will further restrict the team’s ability to add an asset or two.
What will happen with Cueto and Samardzija?
Two highly-paid veteran right-handers are dealing with significant injuries, and neither is healthy enough to contribute right now.
Cueto reported feeling pain in his elbow after every pitch following his Saturday start and was placed on the disabled list Monday before the Giants’ two-game set against the Padres. It’s possible the pitcher and the Giants’ medical staff have discussed the possibility of shutting him down for the remainder of the season and there’s also a chance Tommy John surgery reenters the equation.
Manager Bruce Bochy hasn’t provided an update on Samardzija of late, but the Giants are hopeful a period of rest will help ease the stress on his ailing shoulder and allow him to contribute at some point later on this season.
With decisions regarding the duo’s rest, rehab and recovery likely coming soon, the Giants have to determine how they’ll structure their rotation moving forward.
How will the Giants handle first base?
Brandon Belt isn’t eligible to return from the disabled list until Sunday and Sandoval went on the DL Monday after injuring his hamstring in the Giants’ win over the Brewers, which leaves the team short-handed in the infield.
With Sandoval out, the Giants may recall Ryder Jones, who can play both corner infield positions and has enjoyed a strong season with the River Cats. However, they don’t necessarily have to bring up a third or first baseman, because catcher Buster Posey can play first and they’re also facing two left-handers at Petco Park.
Posey will likely catch Monday and play first base Tuesday, with utility players Austin Slater and Chase d’Arnaud left to cover first base in other situations until Belt returns.