By Dieter Kurtenbach
The time is now for the Giants to make a couple of trades to improve their team ahead of the final two months of the season.
Yes, I said to improve.
The Giants, as disappointing and frustrating as they might be on any given night, remain firmly in the hunt for a Wild Card berth in the National League.
This team still has a lot to play for this season. Get hot at the right time, and they might even be able to exceed newfound expectations and go on an October run.
But to do that, this team needs to add. They need more.
If this team is interested in competing, they need to add at least two key players: a starting pitcher and a right-handed bat.
The good news is that only need to call one team to land both in a trade.
(And before you comment: Yes, if Juan Soto is truly available to be traded by the Washington Nationals, you make the deal. If there’s anything in this deal that could seriously jeopardize that trade, you hold off on this one. The priority is always the generational talent.)
Reds general manager Nick Krall’s phone is going to be exceptionally active ahead of the league’s Aug. 2 trade deadline, because everyone’s looking for what he has: a top-of-the-line starting pitcher — Luis Castillo — and a quality bat that can play multiple positions — Brandon Drury.
The Giants should want both.
But instead of culling the farm as part of a prospect bidding war, the Giants could offer the Reds that few other teams in Major League Baseball would dare: They can take on some serious salary.
The worst salary, in fact.
Yes, the Reds want to improve their farm system in any trade — to build for the future — but cutting payroll seems to be a priority in Ohio, too.
So here’s the trade: The Giants send their No. 5 prospect, outfielder Heliot Ramos, and their No. 9 prospect, left-handed pitcher Matt Mikulski, to the Reds for Castillo, Drury… and Mike Moustakas.
It’s the last player that makes this deal reasonable.
Castillo would give the Giants a powerful 1-2-3 punch at the top of their rotation — a necessity if the team is playing for a three-game first-round playoff series.
It would also relegate Alex Cobb and Alex Wood to more appropriate roles in the rotation, too — that could prove big down the stretch this season.
Meanwhile, Drury is a right-handed hitter that can hang out in the middle of the Giants’ order, as he has a .864 OPS this season. He can also play second base and third — two positions where the Giants need reinforcements. The Giants can also toss him in as a corner outfield spot.
In short, against lefties (1.032 OPS this year) he’ll always be in the lineup because he can play in a bunch of places. His .802 OPS against righties this year means he doesn’t have to be a platoon guy, either.
Is he a game changer? Not really. But he’ll no doubt help the Giants and fit in with the club ethos.
The San Francisco trade package would be good enough to land just those two coveted players, though.
It’s the addition of Moustakas that gives San Francisco a chance to pay less than their peers.
That’s because, in this scenario, they’d pay Moustakas.
The former Royal’s productivity has cratered this season. He’s striking out like crazy, and when he does connect with the ball, it’s weak contact at best. He’s in the first percentile in expected batting average and third in expected slugging percentage.
In short: he’s one of the worst hitters in the game this season.
And yet he’s still due $16 million next season and $18 million the season after that. The Reds can’t justify playing him and they can’t justify keeping him on the payroll, either. Not with their financial concerns.
So Moustakas has a negative trade value.
Just enough negative trade value, I’m guessing, to make the Giants’ two-for-three offer fair.
Castillo still has a third arbitration year after this season, but that is still a controlled cost. It makes him even more valuable. Meanwhile, Drury, 29, is a free agent at the end of the season.
Per BaseballTradeValues.com, which is a third-party trade machine for the league, the Giants’ two-prospect offer would be worth $16.9 million.
Castillo and Drury, on average, are worth $47.6 million per the site.
That’s a hilariously large gap — no reasonable GM would follow up on that call.
But Moustakas’ value could be as low as negative-$33.2 million.
You can do the math. If it is, indeed, considered that valuable, the Giants might be overpaying in this deal.
San Francisco is a big-market team — one of the most valuable franchises in sports — and they have kept payroll down this season. This team should be able to afford to take on one big contract at the trade deadline.
It doesn’t matter if the contract is good or bad; the Giants’ advantage is that they can gladly pay it.
And who knows, the Giants’ coaching staff might even be able to turn around Moustakas.
But whether he’s designated for assignment or a member of the Giants for two years to come, the trade-off could prove exceptionally worthwhile: San Francisco would get exactly what they need to make a real, honest push down the home stretch of the regular season and postseason, all while keeping the farm system strong for a possible Soto trade.
This is a win of a trade for a team that could use one. Let’s see it happen.
Source: Paradise Post