LOS ANGELES -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean intends to strengthen his struggling ballclub by engineering a trade, but he insisted Tuesday that now's not the time.
Not only has the pool of available players not yet formed, but the cost, in terms of prospects the Giants would have to relinquish or salary they'd have to absorb, is currently exorbitant. The explanation is simple: More than a month remains before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
Sabean pointed out that "the price of doing business right now is prohibitive. So we're not going to be doing business. We'd spend all our money or clean out the farm system. ... We're not going to do something reactionary."
Although Sabean said the reigning World Series champions are in "a negative-negative leverage situation," that tends to change as the Deadline approaches. In each of the previous four seasons, Sabean has bolstered the roster with deals in July's waning days. The roll call began in 2009 (Freddy Sanchez, Ryan Garko) and continued in 2010 (Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez), 2011 (Carlos Beltran, Orlando Cabrera) and 2012 (Marco Scutaro, Hunter Pence).
Most speculation has mentioned the Giants as a leading suitor for starting pitching. But Sabean said the organization also has compiled wish lists of relief pitchers and position players.
He added that this is standard operating procedure every summer.
"It's just that we've been more active, obviously, because of our situation," said Sabean, who declined to prioritize the Giants' needs. "... You don't know who you line up with or who your best deal is. Or how much money it costs."
Sabean acknowledged that the Giants have the flexibility to expand their payroll of approximately $137 million if they acquire a high-salaried performer. But he didn't sound overly enthused by the quality of available talent at this juncture.
"I still contend whether it's this trade market, or more so each progressive free-agent market, there are fewer and fewer players available who are going to make the difference with clubs, unless that player's in the driver's seat," Sabean said. "You're going to command more dollars per year and probably more years."
As always, Sabean would prefer to obtain a player whom the club can control -- somebody with at least a year left on his contract or another season of salary-arbitration eligibility. Two years ago, however, Sabean parted with pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to obtain Beltran, an impending free agent who was viewed as the big bat the Giants needed to return to the postseason.
"I think most teams would operate that way and look to [obtain a controllable player] first," Sabean said. "Now, is that realistic? I'm not sure. It would take a lot of things lining up for us to take on a free-agent-to-be. It'd be more interesting if it was more of a salary dump than [with] players attached."
Sabean said the Giants' 38-38 record entering Tuesday is well-deserved.
"When you have a record that's .500 and you're playing like a .500 team, you've earned that record," he said. "A lot's happened. Injuries, poor play."
Referring to San Francisco's 14-23 road record, Sabean added, "I think we've had a tough schedule that maybe we haven't negotiated too well."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.