The San Francisco Giants lineup took a big hit on Thursday when star outfielder, and all-around likable guy, Hunter Pence was hit by a pitch in a Cactus League game. The Giants immediately felt like it was a serious injury, and their fears were later confirmed when he was diagnosed with a fractured left forearm. The recovery time period will be about six to eight weeks, which could cause the Giants to consider finding a replacement outfielder. Don’t expect them to trade for a big time name, but the Astros do have some depth in the outfield on the big league team as well as in the minors.
The Giants could opt to go with an in-house solution, but with the depth that Houston has at the position, a call from Jeff Luhnow doesn’t seem to be out of the question.
Before we start thinking of possible trade offers, I would like to squash a little bug. The Astros will not trade George Springer or Evan Gattis. Springer could be the face of the franchise, and they will not trade him anytime soon. They sacrificed a lot of minor league talent to Gattis in Michael Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz, and Andrew Thurman. The biggest loss could be Ruiz, who could be the Braves new Chipper Jones. The two players are probably untouchable, as are a few of the top prospects. However, I don’t think the Giants will be looking for prospects, they will want someone to step in ASAP.
Potentially Available Outfielders
Acquired by the Astros in last year’s Jarred Cosart deadline deal, the Astros are trying to find a place for Marisnick on the team. He plays great defense, and has potential to hit for a decent average and steal some bases. He was slated to be the everyday left fielder, before the trade for Gattis and signing of Colby Rasmus. If Jon Singleton struggles in spring training, he could become the center fielder.
Grossman, who hit a home run in the Astros first spring game today, could be available with the perceived glut of Astros outfielders. This could be a small move just to offer some relief while Pence is out, but then he would become their fourth outfielder upon Pence’s return. Grossman has shown some promise, but has not been seen as a major contributor. There is a chance that Grossman might not even be on the opening day roster, because of the contract that Alex Presley received this offseason.
Once a top prospect, injuries and inconsistencies have haunted his early career, and could do so in the future. He will probably make the opening day roster, whether he earns it in spring training or not.
Even though he is considered more of a designated hitter/ first baseman, he could probably fetch a big return. The Astros need to decide if they can carry two designated hitters on the team. Carter would make an adequate first baseman, and Brandon Belt has some outfield experience, albeit mostly in left. The trade would have a lot of players switching positions, so it’s probably a long shot.
This could be the Astros chance to get out of the Rasmus deal. I doubt that he would be traded though, because it will send a bad message to potential free agents in the future. Sign with the Astros, and you might be traded before the season starts. So I don’t see him being traded now, but could see him being moved around the trade deadline.
Major League Ready Prospects
The most MLB ready prospects are probably Domingo Santana and Preston Tucker. Santana struggled in his debut with the Astros, striking out in about 70% of his at bats with the Astros. He is still regarded as a top prospect, and could fetch something the Astros could use in the future. I think Tucker has a future with the Astros, so I don’t see him being moved.
My Potential Trade Between Astros and Giants
While this trade might seem crazy, Tim Lincecum has not been very “freaky” the past three seasons, losing his starting role last season with the Giants. However, he did pitch well in the playoffs out of the bullpen. The Giants have decided to use Lincecum as a starter again, but that could change if he pitches poorly. Lincecum is also owed $18M in the final season on his contract.
The Astros would have to take all of the contract to facilitate this deal, and only give up Marisnick. They would get a solid number four pitcher in return for one season. While I’m a Marisnick fan, this would really help the Astros win more games this season. If not, it’s only a one-year deal.
The Giants would get a solid defender to replace Hunter Pence now, and could become a bigger piece in the Giants plans. They would also save 18 million in salary, for a pitcher not really worth it. Do I think this trade will happen? Probably not, but it makes sense.
The odds are that the Giants stand pat with what they have, until Hunter Pence returns. The Astros will have to make some difficult roster decisions at the end of spring training.
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