The San Francisco Giants should trade Matt Cain.
Well, actually, the first thing the Giants need is to realize that they have no hope of winning anything this season and that this means they should be big-time sellers. I also think the Giants should be looking to deal Randy Winn, Bengie Molina, Ray Durham, Rich Aurellia, and any of their other aging veterans that they might be able to get something for.
But the Giants also need to consider dealing Cain. Now, somewhat understandably, the Giants and their fans are reluctant to part with Cain. After all, he was the ace of the team in ’06 and ’07 (before the rise of Tim Lincecum), is under contract for three more years, and is still only 23. In fact, “reluctant” is probably too weak a word – thus far reports are that Giants GM Brian Sabean has refused to even discuss the possibility of trading Cain.
But that is foolish. Because while it is true that Cain is under club control for three more years at bargain rates, and is a very good pitcher, it is unlikely that the Giants will really be in contention for any of those three years if they keep him.
The Giants’ farm system is completely barren, and they are in desperate need of young position players, because even if they don’t trade the aging vets, those vets are not going to be around for much longer either way.
Meanwhile, there are still numerous actual contenders still out there and still desperate for starting pitching. Given what the Indians got for a few months of C.C. Sabathia, what the A’s got for incredibly fragile Rich Harden, and what the A’s got for Dan Haren last fall, it seems clear that the Giants would be able to get at least 4-5 decent prospects for Cain.
The Giants are currently seven games back in the NL West, but with a terrible offense and a lousy bullpen, there is no way that they are going to leapfrog Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Rockies to take the division, especially given that it seems likely that all three of those teams I just mentioned will play a bit better in the second half than they have thus far.
It is long past time that the Giants recognized that they need to be in rebuilding mode. And that rebuilding should be centered around a trade of Matt Cain. While Cain will probably be a good, cheap starter for the next three years, are the Giants at all likely to be in contention in the next three years if they keep going the way they are going?
But on the other hand, if they can get a bunch of really good prospects for Cain, especially position players which they can throw into the mix with Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, Fred Lewis, and Aaron Rowand, then the Giants have a much better shot to jumpstart a rebuilding and be back in contention much sooner than if they keep soldiering on with Cain and spare parts for three more years.
UPDATE: Durham has been dealt for two minor leaguers, speedy outfielder Darren Ford (A) and struggling lefty hurler Steve Hammond (AAA).