According to Giants "officials" the team is looking to trade for a pitcher for the first time since 2003. A team usually driven by pitching has struggled on the mound this year; ace Matt Cain has a 5.09 ERA with a 4.41 FIP and their fifth starter, Ryan Vogelsong, is on the 60-day disabled list with a broken hand. The rotation, as a whole, has a 4.75 ERA and a 4.08 FIP, good for only 2.3 WAR, which is the 8th worst in the league. Yet the team is just two games out of first place, so they're still in it.
If they are are looking for pitching then maybe the Yankees and Giants can match up in a trade because New York has plenty of that. Yankees starters have combined to post a 3.75 ERA with a 3.75 FIP (odd), good for a 6.7 WAR, fourth in the league. They have CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, David Phelps, and Phil Hughes, then they have Adam Warren, Ivan Nova, and Vidal Nuno for depth. Michael Pineda is on the comeback trail and should be done with his rehab assignment in early July, well before the trade deadline. If Pineda is deemed healthy and effective he should be placed in the rotation and Phil Hughes, a free agent after this year, and currently the worst starter on the team with a 4.80 ERA and a 4.38 FIP, should get the boot.
Trading Phil Hughes to the Giants would make a lot of sense. Despite his high ERA he actually has the best K/9 of the rotation (8.50) and a BB/9 of 2.33. What has killed him this season, and most of his career, is his home run rate, which is 1.64 and not only the highest on the team, but also top 10 in baseball. Yankee Stadium is a bad stadium for Phil Hughes to call home, but AT&T Park is much bigger and pitcher friendly. According to ESPN MLB Park Factors, Yankees Stadium has a home run rate of 1.044 (12th in the league), while AT&T has a rate of 0.757 (26th in the league). He has done well in bigger ballparks; a 0.82 ERA in 22 innings at Safeco Field, 1.32 ERA in 17.2 innings at US Cellular Field, 3.22 ERA in 36.1 innings at Comerica Park, and so forth.
The Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler trade from a few years back set a precedent for the Giants to trade away legitimate prospects for a rental player. As a mediocre starting pitcher, Hughes is unlikely to bring back as big of a prospect as an everyday outfielder did, but there's no reason the Yankees couldn't get back a top 15 prospect.
Phil Hughes is not elite, but he would be plenty more effective with the Giants than he is with the Yankees in the AL East, perhaps the NL West and AT&T Park is exactly what he needs just before he becomes a free agent. The Giants need pitching now and it would be cheap in dollars and in prospects. It's unlikely to happen, but I can dream, right?
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