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Bold MLB trade deadline predictions: Will Giants make splash? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
After the top of the eighth inning of the Giants-Pirates game Sunday at Oracle Park, Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier collected three bats in his right arm, grabbed his glove and headed for the clubhouse. As he reached the stairs that lead there, he stopped to hug a couple of teammates, after news broke of his trade to the Padres.
With that, it was official: Welcome to Hug Watch 2021.
For the next five days, any player who leaves a game unexpectedly will find himself trending on Twitter. It's trade deadline week for MLB, with the deadline coming on July 30 this year so that it didn't fall during Saturday games. There is a limit to how many Hug Watch moments MLB teams can stomach, after all.
Last week we looked at some needs the Giants might want to fill before Friday at 1 p.m. PT. Today, a broader look around baseball, with some bold predictions that are sure to be wrong, but hopefully are fun anyway?
The Brewers Are The Friday Afternoon "Winner"
As soon as the deadline passes and we get the "all clear" from 30 teams, the attention turns toward figuring out who won and lost the deadline. That's a sport in itself, although it'll take years to sort all of this out.
There are multiple National League teams in a position to go big, but nobody is set up as well as the Brewers. When Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was with the Dodgers, he often was in a position to add players that were purely meant to upgrade the roster for October, and the Brewers are just about there. They have a 6 1/2 game lead in the NL Central and the Reds -- who have been outscored by 19 runs -- are the only team within eight games.
With Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta atop the rotation and a very good bullpen, the Brewers are a nightmare matchup in a short series. They're 11th in the NL in OPS, however, and could use a big bat.
The time is right for them to swing a blockbuster to bolster the lineup.
MadBum On The Move
With the three-team monster atop the NL West right now, it's very easy to forget that just two seasons ago it was the Arizona Diamondbacks who finished second in the division and won 85 games. They went all-in that offseason, handing Bumgarner $85 million -- and just about everything has gone wrong since.
The Diamondbacks are headed for the No. 1 pick in the draft and need to dive deep into a rebuild. They need to dump the remaining $60 million on Bumgarner's deal, even if they have to eat some of it.
Bumgarner has a 5.09 ERA on the season but has allowed just two earned runs in 11 innings since coming off the IL. His stuff isn't what it once was, but his fastball velocity is back up to where it sat in his late Giants years, and there's nobody available with more big-game experience.
There aren't many big-time arms available, period. Perhaps that allows the Diamondbacks to find a new home for Bumgarner, whose competitiveness is being wasted at an empty Chase Field.
(No, it will not be his old home.)
Big Story in Oakland
Trevor Story-to-Oakland has been out there for months, because it really makes too much sense not to happen. Elvis Andrus has been 34 percent worse than league average by OPS+, and Oakland's shortstops rank 29th in OBP and 28th in slugging.
Story has had a down year at the plate, particularly on the road, but he still has a ton of pop and is a strong defender, and he would be a huge upgrade for the A's even if he doesn't find his old form. He also just seems like the kind of player who would be rejuvenated by joining a contending team as he approaches free agency. He has always been a gamer, as Giants fans learned last September when he helped keep them out of the playoffs the final week.
Not a lot of contenders need shortstops, and while the Rockies have pretended they might keep Story, they have to trade him if they get an offer that's better than the pick they'll receive when he walks this offseason. That shouldn't be hard to do for the A's, who really need to go all-in with a group that's going to start to get expensive in arbitration.
Joey Gallo, Texas Ranger
Gallo, a lefty masher who caught fire before the All-Star break, has been connected to just about every contender. The Padres are thought to be after him hard, and he would make a lot of sense for the righty-heavy Yankees lineup. Take a couple minutes and Twitter-search "Farhan" and "Gallo" and you'll see that even a lot of Giants fans view him as the solution.
But Gallo has said he wants to stay in Texas and he's under team control for another season. The Rangers don't have to make a move, and if they want to, they might get just as much in the offseason.
There will be a lot of surprises before Friday's deadline, but every year there are a few big names who dominate the rumors and then stay put. The prediction here is that the Rangers, playing in front of fans at a new park for the first time, are that team this year.
Giants Trade Someone Off Big League Roster
Whether it's a big move or several smaller ones, the Giants are going to add. They don't have glaring holes, but there are areas where they could certainly get better, and it's not Zaidi and Scott Harris' style to stand pat.
But there is a complication. The current 26-man roster is full of contributors, and the Giants have Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt and Tommy La Stella coming back in the next couple of weeks, along with -- potentially -- Reyes Moronta. Aaron Sanchez is currently on the 60-day IL, along with Longoria, La Stella and Moronta.
They are facing a 40-man crunch and an active roster crunch, and the easy way to fix that is to go need-for-need with another club. If Belt comes back and pushes Darin Ruf and LaMonte Wade Jr. to the outfield, the team is going to have an awful lot of outfielders, and there could be interest in some of their right-handed relievers if they supplement that by going out and trading for someone a bit more trustworthy to pitch in the final couple innings.
Okay, it's not the boldest take to say this front office will trade a big leaguer. They've already done it this year with the Wandy Peralta/Mike Tauchman deal. But as everyone focuses on prospects this time of year, don't forget about the big league roster.