The Giants are 6½ games behind the Diamondbacks in the National League West and the wild card is so far off it's not even worth talking about. The Giants may not want to start making moves until they see how the next few weeks play out because they may be more sellers than buyers. On the other hand, if they want to get within shouting distance of first, they need to start making up ground quickly and trading for pieces could help do that.
Needs (likelihood to deal for position in italics)
Starting Pitching-High: The Giants' rotation has been terrible this year outside of Madison Bumgarner. Even usually-reliable Matt Cain has struggled. Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum haven't been good and while their peripherals appear better, you wonder how much longer the Giants can wait to upgrade their rotation. If they're serious about a repeat, they need to bring someone else in, preferably a high-end starter.
Center Field-Medium: With Angel Pagan out for the year, Gregor Blanco has attempted to fill in, doing an OK job (.702 OPS). The flaw with Blanco is that he can't hit lefties, so a right handed option (or a better overall option) could interest the Giants.
Left Field-High: Andres Torres has been manning left field for the Giants. Unfortunately for the Giants, this isn't 2009 Andres Torres and rather the 2013 version. The difference: The 2013 version stinks. Time to toss in the towel on this 35 year old and find a replacement.
Fits on the Cub Roster
A common theme in the NL West, but Matt Garza is an option for them if they're looking to make a big upgrade to the top of their rotation. If they're just looking to improve their back end with something cheaper, then Carlos Villanueva comes into play. If they think David DeJesus could be an overall upgrade over Blanco, he could be someone they look at too. In left field, Alfonso Soriano, Nate Schierholtz and DeJesus would appear to be good fits for the Giants, but there are problems there. Soriano (reportedly) didn't want to go to San Francisco last year and Nate Schierholtz spent five mediocre years in San Francisco before being traded last year to Philadelphia.
What's in it for the Cubs?
Ranked the 26th- and 28th-best organization for talent by Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, respectively, this farm system has some really interesting pitching options in it despite its low ranking. The Giants top prospect is 20 year old RHP Kyle Crick and he's putting up video-game strikeout rates in High-A (14K/9) while compiling a 1.46 ERA (sample size warning of 6 starts). He's only recently started focusing on pitching, so his changeup and command need a bit of work, but he has top of the rotation potential. The Giants' 2012 first-rounder, RHP Chris Stratton, has performed well in his first full season, showing a good ability to miss bats at low-A (9.5 K/9), which has led to excellent peripherals (2.71 FIP). Stratton throws a good fastball and slider, but needs to improve his curve and changeup. If he figures it out, Stratton could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the big leagues.
Clayton Blackburn is another highly thought of RHP in the Giants system and his peripherals show he's done well at High-A, striking out over 10 hitters per nine innings, which has led to a 3.25 FIP. Reports on his fastball seem to vary (from 87-94 MPH), but scouts love his command and his curve, change and slider all have plus potential, making him a potential #3 starter. A more MLB-ready option in the Giants system is Mike Kickham, a LHP who has bounced between Triple-A and the majors and hasn't been too great at either. That being said, he has a good fastball and slider and projects as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter if he can develop his changeup.
Martin Agosta is a 2012 second-round pick who's been nails in Low-A with a 2.18 ERA and striking out 11 batters per nine innings. Aldaberto Mejia is another young, promising starter who has performed well so far in High-A (3.63 ERA). Mejia is projectable and could develop a good change and slider to go with his already solid fastball. Filling out the trio of projectable youngsters that are performing well is Edwin Escobar, who is striking out 11 per nine at High-A while posting a 3.19 ERA. Heath Hembree is one of the best MLB-ready late inning reliever prospects out there, throwing a great fastball and solid slider.
In terms of position players, C Andrew Susac is a guy to keep an eye on if he can improve his defense. He's already in Double-A and has hit for good power there (11 HRs) while showing an ability to get on base (.373 OBP). Center fielder Gary Brown is a prospect that's fallen out of many top 100 lists due to an iffy bat and he's continued to struggle this year (.733 OPS). Brown is known as a great defensive center fielder and a speedster, but he doesn't get on base all that well and he gets thrown out on the base paths far too often. Lastly, 2B/SS Joe Panik was a top-fiveish Giants prospect coming into the year, but he's really struggled at Double-A (.686 OPS) so far. Scouts still seem to love his makeup as well as his ability to put the bat on the ball.
Who says no?
Matt Garza for Kyle Crick
Matt Garza for Chris Stratton, Aldaberto Mejia and Martin Agosta
Carlos Villanueva for LHP Edwin Escobar
Nate Schierholtz for Martin Agosta and Aldaberto Mejia
David DeJesus for Aldaberto Mejia and Mac Williamson
Sickels on Williamson: "At this point, you can pretty much throw the C+ guys into a hat; there are about two dozen valid ways to order them. I'll go with Williamson, who has the highest offensive upside left on the board here but limited pro experience. Raw power is his calling card and he showed better hitting skills than expected in short-season ball."
Alfonso Soriano for Steven Okert:
Sickels on Okert: "Saw him in college and loved him, good stuff, nice delivery, gets tons of grounders. Underrated."
Overall Fit- High
I was surprised at how great of a fit the Giants were, but with the Pagan injury, outfield all of the sudden becomes something they need to address. But there are some questions about the Giants as a fit. Can they stay in the playoff hunt? Do they really want to trade for a guy that turned them down last year (Soriano) or a guy that they had and traded last year (Schierholtz)? Regardless, the pitching in this system seems extremely deep and it seems to have a lot of guys with upside. Our fellow Cubs bloggers at CubsDen are hearing the Giants are beginning to pursue Garza hard. Let's hope they stay in the hunt and have the blinders on when it comes to Schierholtz/Soriano.
Next Up: San Diego Padres