LOS ANGELES - When discussing the trade deadline in recent weeks, Bobby Evans often brought up a number that the front office is trying to keep in mind: 29. As in, it will be much easier for the Giants to reshape their roster in the offseason when they have 29 teams to deal with, not just a handful.
Monday's 1 p.m. deadline came and went without so much as a whisper. "It was extremely quiet," one source said of discussions the Giants had. That was to be expected for a number of reasons, among them, the standings on July 31. Two divisions in the National League are already decided and two teams within the NL West are far ahead in the wild card race. The American League is more wide open, but still, fewer teams than normal were in real "go for it" mode.
The Giants looked around and saw this coming. Weeks ago, team officials predicted an underwhelming deadline, saying they didn't quite match up with teams in what ended up being a market made for buyers. The Giants entered July with two likely trade chips, but Johnny Cueto was sidelined by blisters in his first start after the break and hit the DL. He will rehab with the San Jose Giants tonight and he'll likely get through waivers, so there's still a chance the Giants can make a significant move in August.
Eduardo Nuñez was a lock to be moved, and when he returned from a hamstring strain and proved his health, the Red Sox pounced. Nuñez was the only notable Giant surely headed for free agency, and rival evaluators believe the Giants did well to snag two projectable pitchers.
"The offer from Boston was compelling," Evans said last week.
Others were much less compelling. The Giants never seemed to get particularly close to dealing a reliever, and they didn't have all that much to offer in a market where Zach Britton, Brad Hand, Addison Reed and Justin Wilson were among those available.
Injuries killed any hopes of dealing Cueto - or even shopping Mark Melancon - but it was ineffectiveness that scuttled other discussions. Matt Moore once seemed a nice potential chip if the Giants would have to rebuild, but he was one of the National League's worst starters in the first half.
The Giants talked to teams about Denard Span, but his poor defensive metrics in center make him a tough addition for any contender. One team headed for the postseason sniffed around about Hunter Pence because of his reputation as a team leader, but Pence's numbers at the plate have dropped off dramatically. Jeff Samardzija was the Giant mentioned most often in recent weeks, but a 4.85 ERA and penchant for allowing homers took him off a lot of team's lists, and his no-trade clause took care of others.
Then there are the two interesting younger players, and this is where the "29 teams" mantra comes in. There are some in the organization who believe the Giants cannot even hope to contend next year without flipping Brandon Belt or Joe Panik for outfield pieces. They never gave any indication they were shopping either, but they will listen in November. Here in July, very few teams are looking for a starting infielder.
The month was not a total waste. The Giants held constant meetings to discuss the future and they have zeroed in on certain checkmarks of their offseason plan. First and foremost, team officials are focused on improving their outfield defense, the worst in the majors by far. It seems unlikely that Span starts in center field next opening day, and some of the organization's top decision-makers have discussed moving Pence to left.
The belief is that an improvement in the outfield will settle the pitching staff. How will Evans and his staff actually do it? That's to be seen, but the options will be far greater in the offseason, when 29 other teams are taking and making calls.
"No one is saying this is going to be an overnight fix," Evans said last week. "It's going to take time but our hope is to shorten that length of time because of what we do between now and the start of spring training."