Giants GM Brian Sabean assesses trade landscape

Sabean: 'To do business this early you're gonna get your clock cleaned'

Giants GM Brian Sabean assesses trade landscape
June 25, 2013, 6:45 pm
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Whether we pick up the phone or make a phone call, we’re in a negative leverage situation
Brian Sabean

LOS ANGELES – Giants general manager Brian Sabean acknowledged he and his staff have begun compiling lists of trade targets and making calls earlier than usual – a function of the club’s struggles and its injury-plagued roster.

But the longtime GM made it clear that he is nowhere close to making a deal, nor does he expect one anytime soon.

“The best way to put it is, the price of doing business is prohibitive,” said Sabean, as he leaned against the railing in the Dodger Stadium visiting dugout. “So we won’t do business.”

The Giants have been linked to most of the starting pitchers expected to be moved, including the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco, the Cubs’ Matt Garza and Scott Feldman and the Astros’ Bud Norris. The other four clubs in the bunched-up NL West are looking at the same list.

Norris and Nolasco are California natives who have expressed interest in pitching for the Giants. But Sabean said a desire to be in San Francisco does not necessarily make a pitcher a more attractive target, even if it might mean a greater chance to retain someone like Nolasco, who is a free-agent to be.

But even though the trade chatter is picking up within the industry and percolating on Twitter and other media, Sabean cautioned against expecting any quick fixes. That’s a simple function of the calendar, with five weeks to go before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

“Whether we pick up the phone or make a phone call, we’re in a negative leverage situation,” Sabean said.

The Giants front office has compiled three lists: position players, starting pitchers and relievers. Sabean declined to say which need would be considered a top priority, leaving the impression that the club has a finite amount to offer both in terms of taking on salary and in minor league talent, and making a deal now would wipe out his ability to be in play for other names that might hit the market as more teams slide from contention.

“If somebody trades a player on this date, they’ll win the deal and you have to let ‘em win the deal,” Sabean said. “It can wipe you out.”

Sabean said ownership has given him financial flexibility to take the payroll north of $145 million; he remains resistant to trade for a three-month rental player, but it would be more palatable if that acquisition involved a salary dump and didn’t cost much if any minor league talent.

“Money’s not the problem,” Sabean said. “Making the right deal or deals at the right time is kind of the art form. But it’s not going to be now and it’s not going to be overnight.”

Besides, the Giants do not see any of the pitchers currently on the market as anything more than a No. 4 or 5 starter.

Although Sabean said he is happy with the job Gregor Blanco is doing as Angel Pagan’s replacement in center field, and did not classify the need in the outfield as dire, the GM acknowledged that the lineup lost some of its length when Pagan underwent hamstring surgery Tuesday that will sideline him for at least 10 weeks.

Ideally, the club would be trying to get healthy at home instead of starting its second three-city road trip this month. Sabean mentioned the club would get two relievers back by the time the club begins its next homestand July 5: Santiago Casilla, who is close to facing hitters, and Chad Gaudin, who just went on the DL Monday with a contusion on his pitching arm.

Until then, the Giants will have to tread water, try to stay at or above .500 – and hope to remain within striking distance in the muddled NL West. It wasn’t like they were wire-to-wire winners in 2010 or 2012, when they ended up being the last team standing.

“We’re just in a tough patch right now,” Sabean said. “To me, we’ve just got to survive on the road while we’re undermanned.”

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Joaquin Arias’ hamstring pull is not major. He’s expected to miss the remainder of the series at Dodger Stadium but manager Bruce Bochy is hopeful that Arias will be available Friday at Coors Field.

Arias wasn’t walking with a limp and said he felt better Tuesday.

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Pablo Sandoval moved from fifth to fourth in Tuesday’s lineup. Bochy said he’ll probably bat Sandoval fifth against left-handers and cleanup against right-handers for the time being.

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Angel Pagan’s surgery went fine with no complications, Bochy said. He’s still expected to miss 10 to 12 weeks.

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I am not making this up: A family of skunks is living in Chavez Ravine, and the ballpark absolutely reeks. It’s almost as bad as seagull poop in your $10 beer.

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