When the July 31 trade deadline rolls around, the San Francisco Giants could sell off some of their impending free agents instead of stocking up for the stretch run. No, that wasn’t what general manager Brian Sabean had in mind a couple of months ago, but it’s starting to become a feasible reality.
Let this settle in: the World Champions becoming sellers less than a year after holding a parade to celebrate their third World Series title in three years.
The Giants are 9-21 over their last 30 games, and it’s that rough stretch that has them 6.5 games back of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.
Among the pieces that could be headed out include Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence and perhaps Pablo Sandoval, if the right deal comes along. The name that isn’t often brought up, though, is lefty specialist Javier Lopez, who has a 1.64 ERA in 22 innings (38 games) this year. If the season ended today, that’d be the second-lowest ERA of his career.
With that number in mind, it’s safe to say that Lopez has value. We’re not talking big, top prospect-type return value, but value for a lefty specialist that’s making a little bit more than $4 million per year.
I warn you not to underestimate the value of lefty specialists. Dangling Lopez wouldn’t garner the headlines, but pitchers of his kind are key ingredients in building a contender.
Just look back at past World Series winners. The Giants had Lopez in 2010 and 2012. The St. Louis Cardinals had Marc Rzepczynski in 2011. After allowing three runs in Game 1 of the 2011 NLDS, Rzepczynski allowed just one run over his final 11 appearances (1.08 ERA).
If the Giants make Lopez available, there are three specific teams that could come calling.