The San Francisco Giants emerged from the All-Star break with the hope that a winning homestand would get them back into the NL West race.
After winning their first two games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Giants lost eight of their next nine games. The Giants are now 13 games under .500 and 11 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
At one point, there was consideration as to who the Giants might acquire, but now that the Giants have fallen out of the playoff race, the outlook changed. The Giants became sellers, open to offers for Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez.
All three of these players will be free agents at the end of the year, so it's questionable if the Giants can retain them.
San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean chose not to trade any of the three.
Pence is a valuable member of the Giants and is a fan favorite. The Giants will almost assuredly make a qualifying offer to Pence, which will be in the neighborhood of $14 million. They will also consider negotiating a long-term deal with the right fielder.
If another team signs Pence, the Giants will receive a compensatory first-round draft pick in the 2014 amateur draft.
Angel Pagan should be able to make a successful return in 2014, so the Giants will need two starting outfielders. Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres have proven they are not everyday players, which is one reason the Giants offense has struggled this year.
Retaining Pence will be an important move for Sabean. The Giants will be hard-pressed to acquire an outfielder who can do more than him.
Without Pence, the Giants would need two starting outfielders, which makes it very important for the Giants to sign him. Pence also brings intangibles benefits to the Giants. He always plays with incredible hustle and has a team-first attitude.
Pence is currently hitting .277 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI. He also leads the Giants in steals with 14. Pence has played very good defense in a tough right field at AT&T Park.
Lincecum is in the same situation as Pence. The Giants plan to make a qualifying offer to Lincecum, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and would like to keep him, if the money isn't excessive.
Looking ahead to 2014, the only Giants starters in the fold are Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. The Giants are likely to exercise their option to retain Ryan Vogelsong, which would leave two open spots.
Barry Zito will be given his $7 million buyout and will be allowed to walk away.
If the Giants are able to retain Lincecum and Chad Gaudin, their rotation could be set for 2014. Gaudin will also hit the free-agent market following the season. He has fit in well in San Francisco, and Sabean should be able to retain him.
The trade deadline has officially passed, and the Giants did not receive the kind of offers that Sabean wanted. Pence, Lincecum and Lopez will remain in San Francisco through the remainder of the 2013 season.
Any trade the Giants would have made must have brought in prospects significantly better than the first-round compensatory picks they would receive if either of them left.
Sabean did try to make one deal involving left-handed reliever Lopez. The price tag was high, and Sabean apparently did not receive the kind of offers he wanted in order to make a deal.
Losing Lopez would have been a costly blow to the Giants, as he is one of the best lefty specialists in the game. The Giants will need to sign Lopez this winter, or holding on to him now was a mistake.
Lopez is 36 years of age and having a fine year. In 45 appearances, he has thrown 25.1 innings, allowing only 20 hits and 10 walks, while striking out 27.
Lopez typically comes in to face the top one or two left-handed sluggers at a critical point of the game. He is called on to get outs against the likes of Carlos Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Joey Votto, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
Sabean undoubtedly felt that signing Lopez would be possible, otherwise he would have pulled the trigger on a deal.
The Giants also acquired pitcher Guillermo Moscoso for a player to be named later or cash. This gives the Giants some additional pitching depth, but it cannot be considered a major move.
Considering that the Giants want to retool their team to contend in 2014, retaining Pence and Lincecum are vital to their success. Replacing them would have been difficult.
The remainder of the 2013 season should give the Giants an opportunity to look at some of their young prospects. The winter will be busy for Sabean as the Giants have several holes to fill.
Not knowing exactly what was offered, we must trust that Sabean made the best possible decisions for the future of the franchise. Looking forward, the key will be whether the Giants can retain all three of these players.
The Giants have won two world championships in the past three seasons, and Sabean has been the architect of those rosters. He has earned that trust.
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