Monday, July 25, 2011

MLB Trade Rumors: 5 Alternatives to Carlos Beltran for the San Francisco Giants

One of the most exciting times of the baseball year is set to get underway this week. The MLB trade deadline is this upcoming Sunday, July 31, and the San Francisco Giants are at the center of it.

The Giants are rumored to be the front runners in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes, however there is much debate over who the New York Mets want and who Giants GM Brian Sabean is willing to give up.

The debate comes in when the Mets start demanding key players in the Giants' talented farm system. That list includes Brandon Belt, Gary Brown, Zach Wheeler and Francisco Peguero, although the noted "untouchables list" may include any and all of those players.

San Francisco is willing to take on the contract of Beltran, but it is speculated that the Mets want notable prospects in return, which is where things get difficult.

It is hard to believe that the Giants will part with players like Belt and Brown, but if Wheeler and/or Peguero are not enough, San Francisco will be looking elsewhere for a player to push them deep into the playoffs.

Here are five alternatives to Carlos Beltran if negotiations do not work out.

5. Ian Desmond

Yahoo's Jeff Passan is reporting that Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond is being shopped by the team and that the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants have shown interest.

This seems almost like a last resort for the Giants if negotiations fail with the Mets and Carlos Beltran.

Desmond is a decent hitter and good fielder with a nice future in this league, but acquiring him would mean a log jam at shortstop and second base.

The 25-year-old can play both positions, but it would mean the reliable Mike Fontenot, Brandon Crawford and recently-acquired Jeff Keppinger would be battling for one starting spot every night.

Although this would be a solid pick-up for the Giants, the move just does not add up overall.

4. B.J. Upton

The B.J. Upton possibility comes into play if the Giants decide that the Mets are asking for too much in the Carlos Beltran deal.

The overall consensus around baseball is that Upton's trade value is at its peak, which is why the Rays are likely to part with the 26-year-old for a few decent prospects. Compare that to the Mets, who are looking for top-tier prospects in return for Beltran.

An asking price for Beltran may be Gary Brown and Zach Wheeler, while Upton's asking price may be Francisco Peguero and Wheeler.

Upton's athleticism would greatly improve the Giants' defense, but the concern over who he is as an overall baseball player may drive some teams to stay away. Many teams feel he is more of an athlete and less of a well-rounded baseball player.

Most likely, Upton is second on San Francisco's trade deadline list.

3. Hunter Pence

There has been no rumored connection between Pence and the Giants, however San Francisco is a major player in the trade market this year and could pursue any of the top players on the market at the trade deadline.

Pence is growing into "star" status in baseball, and his average of .308 with 62 RBI so far this season has some teams salivating at acquiring the center fielder for a deep playoff run.

The major problem is that the Astros want mega-prospects in return.

Pence is only 27-years old with a bright future in baseball, which is why if the Giants choose to pursue him, they will have to bring the entire farm system with them.

It will be worth it, though.

2. Josh Willingham

Same player, just another year.

The Giants were interested in Willingham last season for their playoff push, but negotiations seemed to fizzle out come the trade deadline.

The Giants have had a good look at the 31-year-old just across the bay, and he could be a good solution to their middle of the order problem.

Willingham has 13 home runs on the season, despite playing in just 76 games.

The only thing stopping the Giants from seriously pursuing him would be his stints on the disabled list this season.

1. Jeff Francoeur

Francoeur has had a solid year for the Kansas City Royals, and he seems to be regaining the form we saw with the Braves back in 2006 and 2007.

That formula makes for the quintessential trade deadline target, however the chatter among the rumor mill has simply not heated up for him yet.

Francoeur would fit in perfectly with the fun and friendly atmosphere of the Giants clubhouse, as well as fourth or fifth in the starting line-up.

Think of a better-hitting Nate Schierholtz with that same solid arm in right or left field. However, if Schierholtz continues to swing the bat, Sabean may lean more towards staying pat with Nate the Great.

The goal of the trade deadline is to get a player to fill the team's need. Francoeur can do that for a decent price.

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