SAN FRANCISCO — With the Dodgers in town to ring in Tuesday’s trade deadline, not only do they hold a 17½-game advantage over the Giants in the NL West, one team is firmly in the middle of the Juan Soto sweepstakes and one is viewed as no more than an ancillary player.
The same can be said for any possible mover at this year’s deadline. Sure, the Giants themselves could be sellers in some form, but they also lack the organizational depth to make an impact addition such as Soto without mortgaging their future if they were to go the other direction. After all, they entered Monday night still only 4.0 games out of the wild card, despite a 14-24 record since June 18.
Beyond the $100 million that separates the two teams’ payrolls, the Dodgers have set themselves apart with a farm system that regularly produces major-league talent. The whirring Los Angeles machine has given them a wealth of resources to supplement the major-league roster and to deal from come deadline time.
Before becoming the Giants’ president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi helped lay the groundwork of that system. But in the fourth year of his tenure here, San Francisco is still lacking the deep well of talent it will take to compete in the NL West.
The Giants’ shortcomings are not for a lack of investment. They sunk $70 million into a state-of-the-art minor-league facility in Arizona that opened this past spring.
But a farm system that was not long ago seen to be on the rise has stalled out along with many of its top prospects this season.
At the top, the struggles of Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart have left holes on the big-league roster.
Ramos, 22, never really figured things out at the plate in Triple-A, where his average is still a dismal .221. Bart has shown marginal improvements since returning from Triple-A but still has been far from a seamless transition from Buster Posey.
Kyle Harrison, the 20-year-old left-hander from De La Salle who has racked up strikesouts in High-A and Double-A, might be the only success story among the Giants’ top prospects this season. Shortstop Marco Luciano, also 20, has impressed when healthy but hasn’t played since June 3.
A look at Nos. 3-10, via MLB.com’s rankings:
- OF Luis Matos: Batting .184 at High-A after battling injuries earlier this year
- RHP Will Bednar: Last year’s first-round pick has pedestrian numbers at Single-A
- OF Jairo Pomares: Repeating the same level he ended at last year (High-A) with worse results
- C Patrick Bailey: .322 hitter at Single-A last season but is batting .196 in 332 ABs at High-A
- OF Hunter Bishop: Recovered from a shoulder injury but still striking out too much and making too little contact at High-A, four years since being drafted 10th overall
- LHP Matt Mikulski: 23-year-old with a 4.88 ERA at Single-A
- SS Aeverson Arteaga: Strong defender with a .757 OPS but still a ways away, as a 19-year-old at Single-A
That doesn’t do much to excite potential trade partners, nor should it give the Giants much potential in their ability to recover from shipping off Harrison and/or Luciano in any blockbuster. The major-league roster doesn’t boast a single player drafted and developed by this regime (partially impeded by the pandemic setting many minor-leaguers backs a full year), while Logan Webb and Camilo Doval headline a small group of homegrown talent that preceded Zaidi.
Conversely, the Dodgers featured more homegrown players in their starting nine Monday night (four; Will Smith, Gavin Lux, Cody Bellinger, James Outman) than the Giants (two; Bart, Austin Slater), even while unloading the prospects to give that order a 1-2-3 of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman (a free-agent signing) while still maintaining the resources to be a realistic landing spot for Soto, who could command the largest trade package in history.
Look around the league, and it is stocked with former Dodgers farmhands: the Betts/David Price trade netted the Red Sox Jeter Downs and Alex Verdugo; the Nationals’ starting battery for one of their games last week at Dodger Stadium was made up of two top prospects they received for Scherzer and Turner (RHP Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz). Even one of this deadline’s most coveted major-leaguers, Frankie Montas, was once a Dodgers prospect before they dealt him to Oakland in 2016.
Yet, the Dodgers are no worse off. The major-league club owns the National League’s best record and, according to Baseball America’s midseason rankings, the majors’ eighth-best farm system. The Giants? Eighth out of 15 in the NL this season, and 17th out of 30 in organizational talent.