Tackling the trade deadline: San Francisco Giants

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Over the next few days, I’m going to look at the needs of some contenders as we approach the July 31 trade deadline.

San Francisco Giants
First-half record: 52-40
Standings: Leading Arizona by 3 games in NL West

Needs

Middle infield: The Giants are hoping to get Freddy Sanchez back from a dislocated shoulder at the end of the month, but season-ending surgery remains a possibility there, and the Giants have gotten a combined .229 average, one homer and six RBI in 140 at-bats from their other second basemen.  They’ve also had a horrible go of it at shortstop, where Miguel Tejada and Brandon Crawford have contributed to an overall .221/.288/.324 line.

Catcher: Eli Whiteside has quietly hit .265 with two homers, 11 RBI and nine walks in 68 at-bats since the beginning of June, so Buster Posey’s absence hasn’t hurt as much as anticipated.  Still, the Giants need help here.  Whiteside, who was injury-prone in the minors, has never caught regularly in the majors and figures to wear down.  Chris Stewart hasn’t hit at all as his backup.

Outfield: A healthy Carlos Beltran would look really good in the middle of the Giants lineup.  However, the outfield is a lower priority for the team.  Nate Schierholtz has been a great surprise with his .807 OPS in right field, and Cody Ross has been well above average at .789.  While Andres Torres has been quite a disappointment in hitting just .226, he is walking and playing excellent defense, making him something close to an average regular in center field.

Target

Jose Reyes (SS Mets): It just doesn’t get much more obvious than this.  The Giants, more so than any other contender, would benefit from a big upgrade at shortstop, and Reyes is the best position player with a chance of changing teams at the deadline.

Proposed deal

Reyes for 1B/OF Brandon Belt, RHP Zack Wheeler and RHP Mitch Lively

Is it enough? Belt isn’t an ideal fit in New York, and the Mets might prefer 2010 first-round pick Gary Brown instead.  The speedy Brown would become the team’s center fielder of the future.  Belt has outfield experience, but I don’t know that the Mets can afford to play him and Jason Bay in the corners at the same time.

I doubt the Giants would give up both Brown and Wheeler, their No. 1 pitching prospect, in the same deal.  Perhaps they’d do Brown if the Mets were willing to take Jonathan Sanchez instead of Wheeler.  Sanchez, though, isn’t as attractive of a trade possibility as he once was, as he’ll be eligible for free agency after 2012.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.