The Giants head into the All Star break sporting their best record since 2003, sitting at 52-40 with a 3 game lead over Arizona. They’ve managed to overcome catastrophic injuries to two of their top hitters and horrible slumps from key contributors, once again confounding experts who can’t understand how the team manages to score any runs at all.
In spite of their strong start, the Giants still have major holes in their lineup that could hurt the team if they don’t take steps to fill them. The trade deadline isn’t that far off, and the Giants don’t figure to stand pat in the meantime. They have a legitimate chance to once again make the playoffs, and chances are they’ll take the steps necessary to strengthen their weak spots.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the names that might interest the Giants in the coming weeks:
Carlos Beltran: Of all the players known to be on the market, Beltran would make the most immediate impact on the middle of the Giants’ lineup. Healthy for the first time since ’08, Beltran has put up a .285/.377/.503 line with 13 HRs and 58 RBIs while being named to the NL All-Star team. He’s expressed a willingness to accept a trade to a contender, and spoke glowingly of the Giants during the Mets’ recent series in San Francisco. Makes perfect sense to trade for him, right?
Well, maybe. Beltran had the same glowing things to say about Boston recently, and would likely say good things about any contending team that might be interested in him (like, “I love the weather in Cleveland”). He’s the best hitter available at the moment, but the Giants’ biggest holes aren’t in the outfield and they may be inclined to trade for help in areas with more pressing needs. Plus the Giants won’t be the only team interested in his services, and that may drive the Mets’ asking price for an outfielder on the wrong side of 30 to levels the Giants aren’t comfortable with.
Actually...yeah, an outfielder on the wrong side of 30? He’s definitely coming to the Giants.
Yorvit Torrealba: The Giants have been linked to Torrealba over the past month, with the suggested asking price being a middle reliever. If that deal can still be had, the Giants would be wise to jump all over it. Torrealba has put up a .286/.375/.476 line this month after going .338/.370/.426 in June and is still a good defender behind the plate.
Torrealba may not be the big bat people want, but compared to the catchers currently on the Giants’ roster he’s Johnny Bench. He’d immediately upgrade the bottom of the order and should be able to fit in seamlessly behind the plate. The Giants may be worried about the $3.25 million he’s owed next year, but that shouldn’t prevent them from pulling the trigger if the deal is there.
Jeff Keppinger: Not exactly a household name, Keppinger is having a nice year for an abysmal Houston team. He can play all over the infield and would arguably give the Giants a better middle infield option than anything they have now. The Astros are on pace to lose over 100 games and likely wouldn’t mind parting ways with a 31-year-old utility infielder. My guess is Keppinger could be had at a reasonable price.
Michael Cuddyer: The Twins are only 6.5 out in the AL Central and may not be keen on trading their best offensive player this year, but Cuddyer is 32, headed into free agency, and his asking price may be too much for the Twins to match. Cuddyer would be an impact hitter in the middle of the Giants’ lineup and could play a variety of positions, including 2B if needed. He’s also the kind of player the Giants may be interested in over the winter (outfielder, wrong side of 30… you remember) so the Giants might be inclined to get him before he hits the open market. If the Twins fall out of contention and make Cuddyer available, it could be another Beltran situation: the asking price may be driven sky high. Still, Cuddyer’s flexibility and bat would make him an ideal fit in San Francisco and the Giants may be willing to pay that price.
Jamey Carroll: It may feel dirty to some fans to consider a trade with the Dodgers, but they’re a team with no hope of contention this year, financial issues, and players that can help a contender. Carroll is one of those players. He’s a perfect 2-hole hitter and would be a better middle infield option than Emmanuel Burriss or Miguel Tejada. The Dodgers likely won’t want much for him, and the relationship between Brian Sabean and Ned Colletti may help facilitate a deal between the two teams.
JJ Hardy: Hardy is having a big year for Baltimore (.278/.338/.498) and would immediately fix the Giants’ gaping hole in the lineup known as “shortstop.” There are a few problems, though: for one thing, Hardy is hoping to work out an extension to stay with Baltimore. And if no extension can be reached and the Orioles put Hardy on the market, he’ll immediately be the best SS available not named Jose Reyes and the Orioles could ask for the moon. There are a lot of contenders besides the Giants who could use a bat of Hardy’s caliber.
Full disclosure: when Hardy’s name came up on Twitter a month or so ago, I argued against trading for him because I wanted to see Burriss get a shot. Well, Burriss has played quite a bit lately, and… yeah, Hardy would be good.
Ronny Paulino/Rod Barajas: I put these two together because they’re basically the same player: catchers with a modicum of hitting ability, a little pop, who won’t embarrass themselves behind the plate and are better hitters than what the Giants have currently. Barajas falls into Carroll’s category, being a Dodger and likely being affordable, and has the most power between the two. Paulino is a better overall hitter (somewhat surprisingly, his career line is .277/.331/.384) and has shown the ability to be a productive platoon player. If the Giants can’t land Torrealba, either of these two guys could fit the bill.
Wilson Betemit: Though he’s been a third baseman for most of this year, Betemit has played 2B and SS in his career and could help the Giants at either of those positions. The Royals are stacked with prospects and have no real use for Betemit, and likely wouldn’t need much prodding to move him. He’s another name that doesn’t exactly set the world on fire, but he’s a solid bat and the Giants need as many of those as they can find.
Omar Infante: He’d be a nice fit, but he’s a Marlin and the chances of the Giants and Marlins making a deal this year are probably less than zero.
Adam Kennedy: He’s been replaced in Seattle and doesn’t really fit with a rebuilding team, and Kennedy can still help a contending team as evidenced by his .259/.301/.395 line. And…well, he’s better than Burriss. That’s really my only criteria right now.