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Who Should the Giants Target at the 2023 Trade Deadline?


Cardinals' SP Jack Flaherty

The San Francisco Giants’ bats have gone cold in the second half of the 2023 MLB season. Their offense, which relies heavily on the production of rookies, has regressed. Excellent pitching from the bullpen and the top two arms in the starting rotation has bailed out this flat offense and kept the team from having a complete collapse. The recent struggles from this Giants team have been brutal to watch, highlighted by a six-game losing streak that included a sweep from the last-place Nationals. Injuries to guys like Mitch Haniger and Thairo Estrada have also dampened the power of San Francisco’s lineup. The Giants need consistency to make a convincing postseason run. With the trade deadline two days away, this article will examine players who could contribute to another October berth for this Giants team.


Tommy Edman (STL)

Tommy Edman represents the ideal trade target for the Giants at this deadline. What is needed for this team is youth combined with experience. Edman debuted in 2019 and broke onto the scene in a big way. He posted a 124 wRC+ and racked up 3.8 fWAR in just 92 games played with the Cardinals. Ever since then, he has been a large part of the Red Birds’ squad, posting impressive numbers every season. This year, he has taken a step back. Edman has a measly .694 OPS and is slashing .237/.303/.391 through 84 games.

Edman still possesses impressive percentile rankings this season, despite his struggles. His rankings are headlined by a 70th percentile Max Exit Velocity, 84th in strikeout percentage, and 88th in Whiff%. His defense has not suffered this year either, as he ranks in the 91st percentile for Outs Above Average. This defensive prowess paired with incredible sprint speed (89th percentile) would make him an ideal leadoff hitter for this Giants team.

This trade would be appealing to both teams involved. Edman would yield a decent prospect haul from the Giants. St. Louis is looking for pitching, as their rotation struggles are their main downfall in 2023. I’m sure the Giants would be willing to dish out a couple of their mid-ranked pitching prospects for a guy like Edman. Edman is not a free agent until the 2026 season, but he will be arbitration-eligible starting in 2024. The Cardinals would undoubtedly use the team-control factor in their trade proposal to try and get more from the Giants, but the fact the Cards will have to start paying Edman arb money could be another reason they would try to offload him this season. Edman would be a nice fit with this Giants team. If he were subjected to Gabe Kapler’s platooning strategies, he would bring a nice change of pace as a switch hitter. With playoff experience and over three years of MLB service time, Edman could end up being a key part to this Wildcard Giants team.



Matt Duffy


A deal that is much more likely to happen at the deadline is a trade for Royals’ first baseman, and former Giant, Matt Duffy. The most appealing part of this trade for the Giants is that they would have to give up essentially nothing. A trade for Duffy could be realistically completed for cash considerations. However, the morale boost that would follow if the Giants were to bring back this veteran is something that can not be recorded in a stat sheet. If San Francisco could capture a few key moments from Duffy for the rest of the regular season, this trade would be more than worth it.


Duffy has not been an impressive player this season. In only 125 at-bats for the last-place Royals, he is slashing .264/.321/.336. That .336 slugging percentage points to an aging player that has been sapped of most of his power at the plate. Duffy has just one home run and eight RBIs this year. His only qualified and relevant percentile ranking is 15th percentile in Max Exit Velocity. To any other team, a trade for Duffy would be out of the question, as all of the numbers indicate he is a burden.


However, Duffy would provide something for this Giants team that cannot be measured. He would bring experience and contribute heavily as a leader in the clubhouse. If he were to find himself on the field, he would have absolutely nothing to lose. Duffy would be back with the team who drafted him playing as a 32-year-old utility man in front of a crowd that adores him. He would also pair extremely well with the rookies on this team, giving them a veteran mentor. A deal for Duffy makes a lot of sense for the Giants, and it could be looked back on as a great decision if the Giants can make an impressive run in October.


Jack Flaherty


The Giants need a lot of help with starting rotation depth. The combination of Alex Wood, Anthony Desclafani, and Ross Stripling has been extremely disappointing, especially because Stripling was one of the Giants’ more notable offseason signings. The Giants are only able to rely on Logan Webb and Alex Cobb as the anchors of their rotation. The other games this year have been an unorthodox mixing of openers and bulk-inning eaters. Bullpen games for the Giants have been very successful. Their bullpen has been lights out all year and has been able to consistently shut down opposing offenses. However, a real starting rotation is much safer compared to the two-man rotation the Giants have deployed lately.

A deal for Jack Flaherty could solve some of those woes. The Cardinals are not having a great year. They find themselves solidly out of a playoff spot as the last-place team in the NL Central. Trading guys like Flaherty and moving forward with the prospects they get in return is the only hope St. Louis has to salvage this disappointing year. What makes this trade more appealing for the Cardinals is the fact that Flaherty is a free agent after this season. The Giants can leverage this fact and possibly give up less because Flaherty can leave the Cardinals after this year anyway. His stats this year have not been the most impressive, as he has a 4.43 ERA in 20 starts and 109.2 innings. The worst part of his game has been his control, as Jack falls in the 15th percentile for walk percentage. The more appealing percentiles are 77th in average exit velocity and 59th in fastball spin rate. Oracle Park is known for being pitcher-friendly. If Flaherty moves to the Giants and continues to limit hard contact, the environment and above-average defense from the Giants’ fielders could prove beneficial for him.


The Giants need to move closer to an actual rotation if they want to make it deep into the playoffs. Relying on bullpen games when you are not starting one of your two dominant pitchers is not ideal for a seven-game series. Flaherty would be a solid rental for this Giants team. The pitching prospects they have developing would not be forced into the majors as quickly if the Giants can count on an arm like Jack Flaherty’s.


 

While the players above will certainly not all be traded to the Giants at this year’s deadline, they all do a great job of highlighting the main issues of this team. It would be ideal if even one of these players are acquired, but the Giants are experts at finding solutions in ways people do not expect. In any case, the 2023 Giants need to have a successful deadline if they want to remain one of the best teams in the league this season. They also need to prove they are trying to win to appeal to big-name free agents in the offseason. The August 1st deadline approaches, and it is do or die for the Giants.



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