One player the Giants can trade for from every National League Central team

In our last installment, we suggested that the Giants could target Brett Baty, an outstanding third-base prospect, because the Mets were giving a long-term role to Carlos Correa. That aged poorly.

So in this installment, we’re going to assume that Correa is on the Brewers by the time this is published. If you’re thinking that he has a shot to sign with the 27 remaining teams, that gives us almost a 4 percent chance. You can’t beat those odds.


(OK, fine, there was an actual press conference this time. Correa is on the Twins, and good for him. The Giants would have done well to sign him to that contract, but I don’t blame them for pivoting to other free agents as fast as they did.)

Who can the Giants acquire from teams in the NL Central? Let’s take a gander.

Why the Cubs would give him up

The Cubs are trying to contend again, bless their hearts, with Dansby Swanson at shortstop, Cody Bellinger in center field and Eric Hosmer at first base. Hey, it might work. But even if it doesn’t, they’ve pushed Madrigal out of regular playing time. The diminutive second baseman will be 26 next season, so he’s closer to a prospect than a known quantity, but there’s a ceiling worth chasing, and the Cubs don’t seem like they’ll be the team chasing it.

If the Cubs are trying to be competitive again, they can use what Madrigal can bring back more than Madrigal himself. The Giants can help them out.

Why the Giants would want him

Let’s be very clear about this: The Giants should want Yan Gomes more. Not only does he fill a need (backup catcher), but he would allow me to fulfill my destiny, which is typing “Yan Gomes is Atlee Hammaker’s son-in-law” once a day, until everyone is clear on this fact.

But Madrigal fits in a lot of ways, even if he hits from the same side as Thairo Estrada and is unlikely to seize a starting job right away. Let us count those ways:

• He has options.

• He’s a strong defender.

• He’s from Elk Grove, which would add to the Giants’ burgeoning Sacramento-area collection.

• He has a unique offensive profile that seems like it would be fun to work with.

That unique profile goes something like this: In 748 minor-league at-bats, Madrigal hit .309 and struck out 26 times. He is a player from 1910 who crawled out of a rip in the fabric of space-time, and he’s doing his best to pretend that he’s not terrified by the motorized carriages that are seemingly everywhere now. And if the Giants could add a little power to this contact-heavy approach, he could be something much more than a useful player. Don’t look at what a player can’t do; look at what the player does better than almost anyone else, and work with it. Madrigal makes contact better than almost anyone else, and he always has. Work with that.

Why it’s not going to happen

What Madrigal can’t do is hit for power. At all. He hit eight home runs with a metal bat in college, and he’s hit two homers in 142 major-league games so far. He’s a slap hitter, and the new shift rules won’t help him a lick. Teams didn’t shift on him at all because he’s always been a “hit ’em where they ain’t” player. And while Madrigal has stellar plate discipline and swing decisions, that isn’t as helpful when pitchers aren’t scared of allowing a home run. Call this the Juan Pierre Conundrum.


If Madrigal were a left-handed batter, it would be easier to wave these concerns away. As is, he’s a little redundant with Estrada, who is also young enough to hope for improvement.

Why the Reds would give him up

The Reds drafted Senzel with the second-overall pick in the 2016 draft pick, and he’s been worth -1.8 WAR over his career so far. He’ll be eligible for arbitration after this season, and if he has another clunker, it’ll be much harder to trade him for value. He’s currently projected as the starter in center field and a ninth-place hitter, but the Reds might be ready to move on.

Why the Giants would want him

The new Moneyball is acquiring all of the disappointing top-five draft picks named “Nick.” Nick Gordon had a good season for the Twins last year, but we’re watching him.

Senzel still has the athleticism that made him the second-overall pick, even if it hasn’t translated to offensive production yet. He’s fast, and he makes good contact, but his hard-hit percentage is far, far below the league average. It’s possible, though, that this is a problem of approach, not physical capabilities. In his rookie season (2019), Senzel barreled up almost twice as many balls, with a much higher hard-hit percentage and a higher (but still reasonable) strikeout rate. A new team and coaching staff might unlock that aggressiveness again.

But the Giants would get him for his defense in center. The metrics didn’t like him much last year, but he has speed and a good arm, and he gets good jumps in center. Considering that he’s a relatively late convert to the outfield, it might be a lack of experience that’s hurting his overall numbers.

Why it’s not going to happen

Boy, I’m sure finding all the soft-contact lottery tickets in this exercise, and that’s sure not what the Giants are looking for. Senzel has options, so the Giants wouldn’t be stuck with him, but it’s not as if this organization has been adept at unearthing buried home run power. They’ve done a good job with Austin Slater, but that took years, and he’s still not Mark McGwire.


You can trust the Giants to refurbish starting pitchers who are dinged up. We don’t have a lot of evidence yet that they can take a powerless Nick and give him power.

Christian Yelich has struggled the past two seasons, but there still might be an MVP in there. (John Fisher / Getty Images)

Why the Brewers would give him up

Because he’s owed $156 million over the next six seasons. His current contract will expire in 2028, when he’s 36, and since the pandemic, he’s moved from “MVP and superstar cornerstone” to “helpful and kinda OK player.” My guess is that the Brewers would give him up for a player to be named later, if not a bullpen catcher.

Why the Giants would want him

Hear me out.

It’s not because Yelich fills a need. Not on his own. He’s a left-handed corner outfielder, which is a role that will be filled capably by Michael Conforto and Mike Yastrzemski. If you’re looking for a way to blow $156 million, a 30-something corner outfielder with a sub-.400 slugging percentage ain’t the way to go. Not for any roster, but especially not this one.

No, Yelich is in this spot because he wouldn’t be the only one in the trade. The Giants aren’t just going to swap Anthony DeSclafani for him and call it a day. The Brewers would need to sweeten the pot an awful lot to get another team interested. Brice Turang is a left-handed middle infielder and the Brewers’ best prospect. The Brewers have four starting pitchers who will be free agents after the 2024 season, and they won’t be able to sign all of them. They might not be able (or willing) to sign any of them. Two of them are legitimate Cy Young candidates.

It’s not about Yelich, although he’s still a quality player, even without the power. It’s about what the Brewers are willing to give up to get Yelich off their payroll. If the Giants can use their supposed financial might to extract Yelich and Brandon Woodruff, with a contract like DeSclafani or Wood going the other way to keep them away from the luxury tax this season, it might be one of the best ways they can still use that Correa/Judge money.

Why it’s not going to happen

Because it’s fan fiction. A trade like this would be so complicated, so risky for all sides, that it’s never going to get past the midnight-text stage. If you lock both sides in a room and refuse to let them out until they get a deal done, you can probably force both teams to make a deal that they don’t hate that much. But it seems too risky and complicated for either team to seek out proactively.

Why the Pirates would give him up

Because Reynolds asked for a trade, and it’s not like the Pirates are going to sign him to a long-term deal. Bob Nutting should sell the team to me for $50 and spend the rest of his years in an oceanfront villa, which still seems like a much better existence than most people could ever hope for. Or he can just give me the oceanfront villa. Either way. But mostly, he should probably let someone else take a spin with the Pirates.


Until then, they will trade their good, increasingly expensive players for good, inexpensive prospects.

Why the Giants would want him

Some of these capsules are a stretch. This one is not. Reynolds plays center field, and he hits. He’s under contract through 2025. He’s a switch-hitter who can play every day. He’s perfect for the Giants in every capacity. Kind of makes you wish they’d just drafted him in the first place. Cough.

Reynolds was a horrible defender in center last season if you believe in the nerd stats, but if you believe in those, check out his 2021 season, when he was elite. The real truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but you’re not getting him to be a Gold Glover. You’re getting him to hit doubles, triples and dingers, and you’re hoping he’ll do it with a high batting average and plenty of walks, too. If he were a free agent this offseason, it’s possible that the Giants would have skipped the Judge/Correa pursuits and gone straight for him.

Why it’s not going to happen

The Pirates want a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Goodbye Kyle Harrison, and that’s just the start of the package. It’s easy to be annoyed at the Pirates for asking so much, except the odds are good that they won’t get anyone back who will ever be as productive as Reynolds will be over the next three seasons. I’m still bullish on Marco Luciano, but it’s possible that Reynolds’ WAR from 2023 through 2025 will be higher than Luciano’s career WAR. It might be likely. That’s how wacky even the best prospects can be.

So, fine, the Pirates are right to ask that much, but Reynolds isn’t a superstar. He’s not the Juan Soto-type that you empty a farm out for. The Pirates can ask for what they want, but that doesn’t mean the Giants have to bite. The Giants with Reynolds duct-taped onto the roster are still likely to finish in third place. You don’t give up arguably the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball for that.

St. Louis Cardinals — One of the players they’re hoarding

Why the Cardinals would give them up

First, let’s define “hoarding.” The Cardinals, like every other team, will need to field a second baseman, shortstop and third baseman over the next several seasons. They have the following players in their organization:

Nolan Arenado
Brendan Donovan
Tommy Edman
Nolan Gorman
• Masyn Winn


If they’re worried about depth, note that I didn’t even mention Paul DeJong, a stellar defender with a career 97 OPS+

Move on to the outfielders. According to Wikipedia, teams traditionally use three outfielders at one time. Yet the Cardinals have the following players in their organization:

Tyler O’Neill
Lars Nootbaar
Dylan Carlson
Juan Yepez
Alec Burleson
• Jordan Walker
Moisés Gómez

Don’t get greedy, Cardinals. Give one of these players to the Giants, and maybe they won’t beat you in the NLCS again, as a treat.

Why the Giants would want them

That’s a lot of players, with a wide range of uses and possibilities. But most of them can help the Giants in the present and future, especially when it comes to some of the younger players.

The most obvious fit (and the one who’s already been mentioned as a trade possibility by our own Ken Rosenthal) is Dylan Carlson, who plays a fine center field, switch-hits and already gives his team plenty of value, even though he’s only 24. He’s from Elk Grove, too, so the Giants might as well collect all the kids who went to Sutter’s Mill for an elementary school field trip. It helps clubhouse chemistry, especially with the Kings looking good this year.

Several of these players would be a fine fit, but Carlson is the likeliest and best fit, even if he’s not an offensive solution on his own, and he wouldn’t come cheap.

Why it’s not going to happen

Carlson isn’t an offensive solution on his own, and he wouldn’t come cheap. As for the other players, they’re either the Cardinals’ best players or their best prospects, and they aren’t worried about having too many of those.

Besides, even if the Cardinals would trade Arenado, you know that he’d hit .200/.290/.370 the second he put on a Giants uniform. Not because he wouldn’t get to face Giants pitching — although that would be a factor — but because there isn’t just one way to be a Giants killer. When a character trait like that is embedded so deeply in your DNA, it’ll come out somehow.

(Top photo of Reynolds: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)