SAN FRANCISCO — After beating the Brewers 5-0 on Wednesday, the Giants boarded their private plane — one equipped with only first class seats — and headed for Arlington, Texas. Team officials continue to hold out hope that a new star will be sitting in one of those seats when the Giants return home August 9.
The front office is chasing another ace to line up behind Madison Bumgarner, and the Giants still believe they’re in the race for some big names, most notably Cole Hamels. The Phillies left-hander is viewed by many in the organization as “a perfect fit,” not just for this year but going forward.
Hamels has a 3.64 ERA this season but his peripheral numbers show he has pitched must better than that line, and he no-hit the Cubs in his last start. The 31-year-old has three years left on his deal at $22.5 million per year, with a $20 million club option for 2019. The Rangers and Dodgers are considered favorites to land Hamels, but the Giants have been involved throughout and the sides continue to exchange names, sources said.
The asking price remains high, and multiple sources said this week that the Phillies asked for a package consisting of catcher Andrew Susac, top pitching prospect Tyler Beede and two more minor leaguers. Susac, 25, is currently on the DL with a sprained thumb; he has a .720 OPS in 41 games this season as Buster Posey’s backup. Beede, 22, was the Giants first-round pick in 2014 and already has reached Double-A.
The quality of the other prospects being asked about isn’t known, but the Giants are wary about pulling too many high-upside youngsters out of their system. They have seen the benefit of being patient, and they currently have a homegrown infield consisting of four players — Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy — who were asked about often when they were prospects. Duffy wasn’t well-known before being called up at the deadline last season, but his name is said to have come up often in trade discussions last summer. A year later, Duffy is putting up All-Star numbers at third base.
General manager Bobby Evans said Wednesday afternoon that the Giants won’t trade a member of their starting lineup in search of a pitching upgrade, but he hasn’t ruled out trading a part of the big league roster.
“From a depth standpoint, we could trade from some depth,” Evans said. “Some of our depth guys, we have to be open-minded about.”
Evans said the Giants are going to “stay aggressive” through Friday’s 1 p.m. Pacific deadline, but at some point they’ll draw a line in the sand.
“There’s a limit as to how much you can give up and it has to make sense,” he said. “Being open to those deals and making those deals are two different things.”
The Giants checked in on Hamels in the offseason when they chased Jon Lester and James Shields, and the asking price at the time was said to be similar, with the Phillies also zeroing in on right-hander Kyle Crick, who has since struggled.
The organization’s have connected in the past, but that’s not necessarily viewed as a benefit. The Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the Giants at the 2012 deadline in exchange for catcher Tommy Joseph, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and right-hander Seth Rosin. Schierholtz lasted 37 games in Philadelphia and Rosin has made just four big league appearances. Joseph was the big piece in that deal, but injuries have slowed his career; he has played just 20 Triple-A games this season and had to be moved from catcher to first base because of concussion problems.
Hamels isn’t the only big target for the front office. The Giants checked in on Chicago White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija recently and also have kept an eye on the Detroit Tigers, who on Wednesday made David Price available.
“I think they’re aggressive, to be honest, because I’ve been up there talking to them about different situations, deals and things like that,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the baseball operations department. “They’re talking to all the clubs — they are right now as we’re speaking. It’s just a matter of what makes sense and what can work out. I do know that it’s not a case of: ‘This is the group we’re going with.’ I mean, if there’s something out there that makes sense for this club, that’s going to make it better, they’ll do it.”
The Giants pulled even in the National League West with Wednesday’s win and they believe they’re in a great spot. If the right opportunity presents itself before Friday’s deadline the front office is ready to pounce, but management and players believe strongly in this group and believe a repeat could be in the works even without a blockbuster deal. Evans said he’s proud of a team that is 56-45 despite a series of first-half injuries.
“We’ve been together with a full complement of the 25-man roster for all of, I think, three games now,” he said. “To be in the position they’re in without a full complement, I think it’s significant. It says a lot about these guys.”
Wednesday’s win was the 14th in 17 games, and after weeks of filling notebooks with cliches, players are starting to talk of the importance of picking up every win. Jake Peavy, Wednesday’s starter, said he felt the game was a “must-win” ahead of a tough road trip to Arlington, Atlanta and Chicago.
“We’ve got a good ball club, we know that,” Peavy said. “We might not be the flashiest team, but we’re a good baseball team.”