PHILADELPHIA — Farhan Zaidi didn’t have to do anything, but he did.
With the San Francisco Giants angling for a playoff spot in a year many thought they’d be ticketed for last place and the start of a rebuild, beginning with a trade of Madison Bumgarner, Zaidi — in his first year as the club’s president of baseball operations — re-engineered the major league roster on the fly.
That new-look team was, as of Tuesday, just two and a half games out of the second National League wild card. In an attempt to balance the unexpected present and the future at the trade deadline, Zaidi retained fan-favorite ace Bumgarner and closer Will Smith, shored up the offense for a stretch run, got salary relief and acquired a bevy of promising prospects, all at relatively little cost.
“I never plan for anything that I don’t know is going to happen,” Bumgarner said. “I feel like I’ve done a good job not letting any of that creep into my head. I didn’t even notice when 4 o’clock came. Somebody told me. I was in the weight room.”
Bumgarner said that the team never came to him with talk of a trade. He couldn’t say whether he would’ve accepted or rejected a deal because it never got to that point.
“For sure it’s a relief,” said Smith, a first-time All-Star this season who will be a free agent once the season ends. “I did my best to not pay attention to any of it. I’ve been through it before, and there’s nothing you can control.”
Retiring manager Bruce Bochy was glad to have both his closer and his World Series MVP ace sticking around.
“I’m happy,” he said. “There’s no getting around that. [Bumgarner] means so much to me, and to have him here for the rest of my tenure is pretty cool. You never know what’s going to happen at the deadline, but the fact that he’s still here is good news to me.”
He was a little less chipper when talking about the departure of relievers Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon. Dyson was dealt to the Minnesota Twins for three minor league prospects: outfielder Jaylin Davis (who is hitting .331 in Triple-A, and may very well come up by the end of the season), and a pair of right-handed pitchers, Prelander Berroa and Kai-Wei Teng. Melancon went to the Atlanta Braves for Daniel Winkler and Stanford product Tristan Beck — two right-handed pitching prospects — and salary relief, as the Braves will assume all of Melancon’s remaining salary on a four-year, $62 million deal.
“It’s not easy to say goodbye to good teammates,” Bochy said. “I’ll miss them, and I can’t thank them enough for their contributions. They were throwing the ball very well, and with them gone our bullpen’s going to change.”
Dyson pitched in 49 games this season, recording four wins and one loss, and a 2.47 ERA. Melancon leaves the Giants with a season ERA of 3.50. There was a surprising amount of interest in both pitchers from the rest of the league, but Melancon’s trade to the NL East-leading Braves came as a surprise to the 34-year-old right-hander.
“I got a call about two hours ago, letting me know that it was a small possibility,” he said in the clubhouse, dressed in jeans and a button-down. “It’s Atlanta, and it’s a really good situation over there, but it’s not easy losing great friends and relationships that you’ve had for the last two and a half years. It’s a business, and it’s not my first go-round being traded.”
Asked about how long it took to waive his no-trade clause, he added, smiling: “I had about 12 seconds to figure that out.”
In another move, the Giants sent left-hander Drew Pomeranz and right-handed reliever Ray Black to the Milwaukee Brewers, who parted with their number-three prospect, infielder Mauricio Dubon in a coup for Zaidi, who now has his second baseman of the future.
In a move that is likely to reconfigure the team’s middle infield in the present, the Giants acquired former All-Star second baseman Scooter Gennett from the Cincinnati Reds for cash and a player to be named later. He missed the first three months of the season with a groin injury, and has played in just 20 games since with mixed results.
“He has an All-Star pedigree. He’s a power guy,” Zaidi said. “He’s coming off an injury, so it’s nice to be able to give him an opportunity to get back on the right path. He might join the team tomorrow, but most likely it’s going to be Friday.”
In another move, minor league pitcher Jacob Lopez went to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for Joseph McCarthy, a Triple-A outfielder who could help San Francisco as soon as this season, along with Davis and Dubon.
“Today we traded from areas of organizational depth to address other needs,” Zaidi said. “The short-term reality is that we’re in a pennant race, but we also have to keep sight of the team’s long-term goals. The guys that we’ve acquired have the potential to make an impact. With the strength of our bullpen, and bringing in Scooter and the minor league players who we hope to see in uniform this year, I feel confident that we can keep things going.”