The Giants have won four of five games and are playing their best baseball of the season.
Which, in the end, likely will just mean they are fielding players whose trade values are getting a bump.
The 31-39 Giants have a .2 percent chance of making the playoffs, Fangraphs tabulates, and three more against the Dodgers before a visit to Arizona could KO a team already on the mat. With a hard trade deadline implemented this season — no more post-July 31 deals — there is even more incentive to act early, as Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has indicated.
So, who’s going? Six weeks to the deadline, let’s rank the 10 who could fetch the Giants the biggest haul.
1. Will Smith
He is the, ahem, perfect trade candidate. The flawless closer — 19 of 19 on saves — is a free agent at year’s end and making just over $4 million this season. He’s been brilliant, composed and low-maintenance. The southpaw has shut down everyone, righties and lefties alike, and has shown no sign of slowing down. He will be an All-Star, and he’s probably a little higher valued than Zack Britton was last season, when the Orioles dealt the to-be free agent lefty to the Yankees for three pitching prospects. All were solid, though none were the high-ceiling studs so many teams crave.
2. Madison Bumgarner
Speaking of the Yankees, 24-year-old outfielder Clint Frazier was recently demoted to the minors, the victim of an overflowing outfield, and Frazier then mostly scrubbed his Instagram of Yankees material. A match is very possible, as the only reason for the Giants to hold onto Bumgarner is sentimental; he has been indispensable to the team and beloved by fans, a three-time World Series champ, but one whose contract expires at season’s end. The Giants are rebuilding, and Bumgarner — whose October resume is unmatched — is building his trade value, a 3.19 ERA in his past five starts.
3. Reyes Moronta
Moronta has not been the most dominant reliever in a dominant bullpen, but his contract makes him extra enticing. The 26-year-old is under team control through 2023, and he has the sort of velocity-heavy right arm teams want at the back of their pens. He has struck out 42 in 29 2/3 innings and posted a 3.03 ERA, his partially red flag coming against lefties, who’ve slashed a still-impressive .229/.391/.257 against him. Of course, because he is controllable means the Giants want him, too.
4. Tony Watson
Watson has had the better season in higher-leverage situations than Moronta, but he’s 34, is making $3.4 million this season and has a $2.5 million player option for next season, making him a bit of an unknown. Further complicating Watson’s value is his strange splits, as lefties, in the small sample size of 34 at-bats, have an .882 OPS against him this season. But he’s been deadly against righties, and there isn’t a bullpen that doesn’t want another lefty arm.
5. Sam Dyson
Have we mentioned the Giants, at 3.75, have the fifth-best bullpen ERA in baseball? Dyson has been another reliable option for San Francisco, albeit without the strikeout rate or high-octane fastball contenders want in big spots. And his price tag — he’s making $5 million this season and has one more season of arbitration — could scare off wallet-conscious GMs. But the 31-year-old has been even better than he was last year, putting up a 2.45 ERA in 31 games, including five straight appearances without a run.
6. Trevor Gott
All it took to obtain Gott was paying the Nationals after a February DFA, and it looks like a Zaidi masterstroke right about now. The strong bullpen has rubbed off on the 26-year-old right-hander, who has been solid against both righties and lefties and posted a 2.79 ERA. He’s controllable, ineligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, making him a candidate to see the other side of this Giants rebuild.
7. Pablo Sandoval
Getting stomped on complicates his value for today, but assuming he returns soon, there are teams who would desire a strong bat off the bench. He’s been among the best pinch-hitters in the league, and the Giants owe him just the league minimum. The 32-year-old’s splits make him even more of a curiosity. He’s been far better away from spacious Oracle Park, slashing .304/.329/.638.
8. Tyler Austin
Another pinch-hitter for a specific situation. Austin, the left-fielder/first baseman, has destroyed lefty pitching, putting up an .894 OPS with four homers in 54 at-bats against southpaws. The 27-year-old is controllable through 2022.
9. Joe Panik
The Giants reportedly talked about Panik trades during the offseason but never pulled the trigger. The lifetime Giant is popular among fans, excellent at second base but has greatly tailed off at the plate in his past two seasons. The 2015 All-Star, who can be a free agent after 2020, is slashing a poor .240/.319/.332. But he rarely strikes out and has plenty of playoff experience.
10. Brandon Belt
Flip a coin to decide whether Belt, the Giants’ best hitter but who’s due $32 million over 2020-21, or Jeff Samardzija ($18 million this season and next) is more tradeable. We’ll go with Belt, whose plate discipline is nearly unmatched, a .370 OBP this season. He is not likely to be dealt, but it’s possible the Giants could package him (or Samardzija) with a more attractive option to help another team’s playoff push and give the Giants more financial flexibility.