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.

Athletics hire third base coach Matt Williams

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The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.

Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.

Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.

While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.

“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”