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Yankees potential trade partner: San Francisco Giants

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Do the Yankees matchup for a trade with the Giants?

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

With a paltry 34 - 56 record, the San Francisco Giants sit at the bottom of the National League West. It must be an odd year. Superstition aside, the Giants are legitimately bad, which leads to speculation that they will sell at the trade deadline. A lengthy rebuild isn’t in the cards, however. The organization prefers to retool, writes Henry Schulman. With that in mind, the club has some pieces that could intrigue the Yankees.

Over the last year or so, Brian Cashman has been on the hunt for starting pitching. The Giants could help him out on that end. Johnny Cueto seems to pop up in most rumors, likely due to his contract status. The right-hander could opt-out of the remaining four years and $87.3 million remaining on his deal and test free agency after the season. If the Giants feel that he’s leaning towards opting out, they will explore his market.

Does that mean the Yankees should be interested? A quick glance at his season stats suggests no. Cueto’s pitched to a 4.51 ERA (4.73 FIP) over 111.2 innings this year. These numbers aren’t skewed by a rough patch, either. He struggled across the entire first half of the season. Even worse, his peripherals looked scarier than the results.

Credit: FanGraphs

Everything is trending in the wrong direction for Cueto. His strikeout rate dropped while his walk percentage has grown steadily. His flyball numbers have grown over recent years, and a lot more of those balls are leaving the park. That’s a recipe for disaster at Yankee Stadium.

Sure, Cueto stands just one year removed from a stellar campaign that saw him post a 2.79 ERA (2.96 FIP). It’s possible that he could rebound, but the red flags are too notable. The Yankees would be wise to pass here, especially if he’s just a rental.

The other starters the Giants could move are Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore. Both are in the midst of poor seasons, though. Samardzija is having another year where his results don’t live up to his peripherals. He owns a 4.58 ERA with a 3.44 FIP. The Yankees have turned to these types of pitchers far too often lately. He fits the team’s modus operandi, but the club hasn’t had success with these guys. Plus, he’s expensive, with three years and $59.4 million left on his contract.

Moore, on the other hand, has two team options remaining on his deal. He has been downright awful this season though. He’s posted a 6.04 ERA with a 4.80 FIP across 96.1 innings. His peripherals have declined across the board as well. The upside here is that he’s AL East tested, having previously pitched for the Rays. That said, the crop of Giants pitchers are quite uninspiring.

In terms of position players, Brandon Belt could be an option as he’s living, breathing, and plays first base. He’s a left-handed batter with power and patience. That’s the profile of a Yankees first baseman alright. On the downside, he owns a 23.2% strikeout rate. Plus, Belt is signed long-term; he has four years and $68.8 million remaining on his deal. A trade for him means the Yankees have likely soured on Greg Bird.

That brings us to our old friend Eduardo Nunez. The 30-year-old utilityman has hit .299/.323/.413 with four home runs over 267 plate appearances. He also hasn’t played since June 19th after suffering a hamstring injury. Nunez is scheduled to hit free agency after the season, so he’s strictly a rental. The question here is if he would be redundant on the roster, considering the Yankees already have Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade. Is he that much of an upgrade? A reunion would give us more of this:

That could be all the evidence you need to justify a Nunez trade.

On paper, the Giants have the types of players the Yankees want. They could have multiple starting pitchers, a first baseman, and utilityman up for grabs. The problem here is that the options aren’t exactly good. Sure, Belt is a quality player and Nunez is fun as hell, but the San Francisco pitchers are bad. I have little confidence in them rebounding at Yankee Stadium. These two teams should be a dream match, but it just doesn’t look like it will play out this year.