SAN FRANCISCO -- What do the Dodgers, Cardinals, Brewers, Phillies and Braves have in common? They have all been connected to Madison Bumgarner or Giants relievers over the past few months at some point, but now they all are among the teams that could potentially stand in the Giants' way in late September or October.
This is one of the trickiest parts of Farhan Zaidi's decision-making process over the next week as he navigates his first trade deadline in San Francisco. At one point earlier this year he talked about how dealing a reliever to the Dodgers could actually make sense since it would weaken their roster in future years, when the Giants were more likely to contend.
The Giants won't make a run at the NL West title this season, but with 17 wins in 21 games, they are back in the NL Wild Card hunt. All of a sudden, it doesn't really make sense to deal a Will Smith or Sam Dyson to the Cardinals or Brewers or someone else in the NL who needs bullpen help. You certainly don't want to help the Dodgers, who will likely host the Wild Card winner. The Braves were a nice potential landing spot for Bumgarner, but the team is more inclined to keep him now, and even if Zaidi did deal him, you don't want to do so with an organization you hope to see in the NLCS.
"I do think it kind of is a different thing if we are in kind of full rebuilding mode versus the position we find ourselves in today," Zaidi said during an appearance on KNBR on Thursday night. "You may be facing the guys you moved to another team. I think it is certainly more complicated than when I first made those comments. It's something that we are going to have to evaluate with any trade scenario we look at.
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"If you are sending a player to a team that's in Wild Card contention, that might be even tougher for us because you don't want to help out a team you could be fighting for a playoff spot with."
The Giants were 3 1/2 back of a Wild Card spot as Zaidi spoke, but they trail five teams and have a few more right behind them. If Zaidi does sell before Wednesday's deadline, the American League could provide more palatable options. There are plenty on that side who could use pitching help, too, and the Giants wouldn't have to worry about facing a traded player until a potential World Series matchup.