SAN DIEGO - It had to sting a little when the news popped up on screens in the front office. The Giants took the franchise player out of Pittsburgh in January. Six months later, the Pirates turned around and made a move for Chris Archer, a pitcher who fit the the description Brian Sabean gave when asked about the type of players he was looking for at Tuesday's trade deadline.
The Giants sought controllable players, particularly arms, but they simply didn't have enough to be in on a player like Archer, who is now under Pittsburgh's control through 2021. The Rays got three players back for Archer, including Austin Meadows, a top 50 prospect, and Tyler Glasnow, a former top 20 prospect who still is just 24. There is no equivalent package in the Giants' system, unless you're tossing Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos together and completely mortgaging your future.
The Giants did not intend to do anything to seriously cut into future rosters. They talked Tuesday about competing this year and trying to go on a run over the final two months, but the men in the front office also know what the odds say. FanGraphs has them at about a five percent chance to make the postseason at this point, with a one percent chance of winning the National League West.
This deadline, then, was just as much about the future as the present. The Giants hoped to replicate a move they made two years ago, when Will Smith was added with three years of team control remaining.
"We wanted to stay clear of free agents to be. We preferred people that were controllable," Sabean said. "In a perfect world, what we were trying to pursue was a controllable situation that would help us in the present and the future. If it didn't advantage us in that fashion, we backed off."
The Giants ultimately did not add for the present or the future, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're done. Several players still could get through waivers in August and be dealt, most notably Andrew McCutchen, who was targeted by several contenders before Tuesday's deadline. Interest in McCutchen was said to be lukewarm, but perhaps that will change in August - he homered in the first game after the deadline - and the Giants will be able to get a prospect or two back for a player they almost certainly will not tag with the $18 million qualifying offer.
Any waiver moves would be about clearing salary and clearing playing time. A McCutchen trade could clear the way for Austin Slater to get more starts, and for Mac Williamson and Chris Shaw to try and make a mark in September. The Giants still have little clarity on their 2019 outfield. Moving a player like Sam Dyson could open late-inning opportunities for Reyes Moronta and Ray Black, and perhaps the big league staff will finally take a look at Tyler Rogers, who has dominated Triple-A, or give Tyler Beede another shot, this time out of the bullpen.
"This team still needs to be further evaluated as we go into the offseason," Sabean said.
That process already has been successful in one respect. The Giants were looking for pitching because their No. 2 starter is likely having Tommy John surgery and their No. 3 starter has a persistent shoulder injury, but as they start to think about a 2019 squad, they already have filled two holes. Dereck Rodriguez once again dominated Tuesday and Andrew Suarez has provided a similar boost.
"We're in a unique situation because all of a sudden we have Rodriguez and Suarez growing before our eyes," Sabean said.
At some point in September, the club may decide to shut them down because of innings concerns. For now, the rookies will try to keep this team in the race. If that doesn't happen, Sabean and Bobby Evans will attempt to tweak the roster through the waiver system.
"We're always looking at opportunities after the deadline," Evans said. "We try to stay available and transparent with clubs in terms of opportunities. I think there's been a lot more activity around the trade deadline this year than we've seen in years past, which I think lends itself to opportunities in August."