Farhan Zaidi defends Giants' mixed message 2022 MLB trade deadline approach

Zaidi defends Giants' mixed message trade deadline approach originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- As expected, Tuesday was an emotional day at Oracle Park. But it was not at all for the reasons that most predicted.

The Giants did end up sending four veterans out before Major League Baseball's trade deadline, but they held Carlos Rodón, their co-ace and the best pitcher available as 3 p.m. PT approached on Tuesday, and they also held Joc Pederson and Wilmer Flores. They traded backup catcher Curt Casali, lefty-masher Darin Ruf, and pitchers Matt Boyd and Trevor Rosenthal, both of whom are on the IL and unlikely to pitch until September.

It was an odd deadline approach, one built around neither buying or selling. It also seemed to be sending mixed messages to the clubhouse.

In keeping Rodón, the Giants signaled that they intend to push for the final National League Wild Card spot. But in getting rid of Ruf, Casali and Boyd, they traded three very popular veterans, players who have been good teammates at a time when it would be easy to grumble about all the losing or the platoons. In dealing Rosenthal, signed just 12 days ago, the Giants sent out perhaps their best hope at having a reliable setup man for closer Camilo Doval.

The final approach was a surprise to rival evaluators, but Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he was not sending mixed messages. The Giants listened on all of their players. They made calls, including an attempt to get 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals.

Ultimately, they felt this group still had a chance to reach the postseason, and there were no other appealing deals on Tuesday other than the ones that were made.

"We talked about being open on anything and everything," Zaidi said. "I think that's kind of how every organization approaches the deadline, but the present really matters to us. For most of the season we've been in a playoff spot and obviously we've had a bad couple of weeks that's kind of put us on the fringes of the race, but we know (that) a hot two weeks can turn it around just like a bad two weeks put us in this position.

"I think the prudent thing was for us to be open to anything, but we have some really good players who we think can help us have a really good last two months and we weren't going to make trades just for the sake of making them. They have to make sense for us, short term and long term."

The long term is where this potentially gets cloudy for the Giants. Keeping Rodón certainly makes them much better over the final two months, but the Giants did have an opportunity to deal him for younger players and start building more for 2023 and 2024. Rodón is likely to opt out of his deal this winter and sign elsewhere, and the Giants do not have a lot of ready-made talent in the upper minors.

Zaidi did not want to go into details of conversations he had with other teams, although some around the game felt that Rodón's opt-out clause likely complicated things for the Giants. If a team were to trade for him and then watch him get hurt, he could opt back in for next year and leave his new team on the hook for more than $20 million. That likely made it harder for the Giants to get what they would perceive as fair value.

"In the end, nothing made sense for us," Zaidi said.

The Giants got calls on Pederson, a player some teammates thought likely would be traded to a contender. They also got a lot of interest in Flores, Zaidi said. But Flores has been their offensive MVP this season. The Giants knew that they probably could not chase a playoff spot without Flores.

"With the impact he's had on our team, it wasn't something we could seriously consider," Zaidi said.

The Giants entered deadline day having lost nine of 12 since the All-Star break and Zaidi acknowledged that they "have got a bit of a road to climb." They are 4 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the NL and the two teams directly ahead of them got better.

The St. Louis Cardinals added much-needed rotation depth in lefties Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery while the Philadelphia Phillies added David Robertson and Noah Syndergaard.

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The Giants did trade four players, but they're hopeful that J.D. Davis, acquired in the Ruf deal, adds some more flexibility to the roster. Brandon Crawford could return Thursday and Joc Pederson and Thairo Estrada are both expected to be back when eligible over the next week. They hope to get Evan Longoria back soon, as well.

Ultimately, the Giants are counting on internal improvements. And they feel comfortable in the fact that they didn't subtract much.

"We're always juggling the present and the future, whether it's a trade discussion, whether it's playing time decisions, that tradeoff is sort of constantly at the forefront," Zaidi said. "I think we carefully thought through that with different scenarios. It's certainly possible that we made some of those deals that were more future-oriented, it's just nothing lined up that made sense."