Giants may be more open to making trades

Evans says focus on outfield defense as GM Meetings start

Giants may be more open to making trades

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Though the Giants aren't believed to be actively shopping their top performers in trade talks, general manager Bobby Evans indicated Monday that he would listen to offers involving the team's biggest stars as San Francisco strives to upgrade its roster.

Speaking to reporters at the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., Evans did not completely rule out the possibility of trading either of the club's pillars: five-time All-Star catcher Buster Posey or ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner, the 2014 World Series hero.

"We have to be mindful of Posey and Bumgarner. They're centerpieces of our club," Evans said. "So is [shortstop] Brandon Crawford, and there's other guys, too, who are important elements. But we have to be open to what other opportunities present themselves, and some of that could require sacrificing something to improve in other areas."

Hot Stove Tracker

Giants management is bent on reviving a club that went 64-98 in 2017 to finish last in the National League West, which featured three postseason teams (Dodgers, Rockies and D-backs).

At least eight Giants players have full or partial protection from trades in their contracts. But throughout baseball history, many players have been known to waive those clauses if they're included in a trade, simply because they don't want to be where they're not wanted.

Posey, Crawford, right fielder Hunter Pence and right-hander Mark Melancon have full no-trade clauses. First baseman Brandon Belt can refuse a trade to 10 clubs, while Bumgarner and right-hander Jeff Samardzija can block deals to eight teams. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval can veto trades to three teams.

Giants' trade options

Evans reiterated that improving the Giants' outfield play remains the offseason's "focal point."

"We feel like our outfield defense really struggled this year," Evans said. "And we play in a big ballpark. If we don't protect our pitching with better defense out there, we're going to pay the price."

Typically, the Giants have preferred to make key acquisitions through free agency rather than trades, partly because they've often been perceived to lack enough Minor League talent to assemble a viable trade offer. Moreover, executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean has called free agency a "cleaner" process, because it enables teams to avoid parting with valuable performers.

Giants' offseason needs

This offseason could be an exception. Should the Giants sign free-agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who was extended a $17.4 million qualifying offer by Kansas City, they'd relinquish their second- and fifth-round picks in next year's Draft to the Royals. That might make a trade more palatable for the Giants and could explain why they've been mentioned in more trade rumors than usual. Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. and Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton have been among those linked to the Giants.

"We'll keep all our options open," Evans said. "I really wouldn't want to single out anyone as any less of a target at this point."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

AJ Cassavell is in his seventh season as a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ajcassavell.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.