Giants Are Reportedly Considering Bad Contract Swaps for Outfielders, Eh?

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Giants Are Reportedly Considering Bad Contract Swaps for Outfielders, Eh?

Chicago Cubs

Buster Olney recently sent out a tweet that, in late January, just has to make you chuckle:

Two to three outfielders, eh? Is that all?

Even a team that projects to be non-competitive is usually trying to get some value out of an entire outfield, either to develop for the future or to trade for some other return. Maybe that means a short-term signing. Or a trade for a AAAA prospect. Or maybe it means another way to extract value out of an empty spot on the roster.

Apparently, among the Giants’ considerations on that front: bad contract swapping.

Here’s Buster Olney again:

We’ve talked about the Giants being a possible trade partner for the Cubs before, with the idea involving a bad contract swap and the $106 million still owed to 29-year-old Jason Heyward.

Ellsbury, 35, has been a disaster for the Yankees the past four years, pairing disappointing performance with horrible health. As Olney notes, Ellsbury is owed about $48 million in almost entirely dead money at this point.

Wouldn’t the Giants, if they were using an outfield acquisition as a vehicle to move money around, much rather land a guy like Heyward, who is a far better bet to resume being an above-average overall player, and whose downside appears to be that of a meh-average or slightly below average player, rather than nothing at all?

The answer is obviously going to be yes. As we’ve explored before, there are theoretical reasons why the Giants would want Heyward, who does have limited no-trade rights to block trades to a list of teams unknown:

  1. An aging core that might be able to squeeze out a competitive year or two while Heyward is still young.
  2. A new front office that might be looking to go in an entirely different direction selling off, and wants Heyward as a stabilizing veteran during the process.
  3. Heyward’s stellar right field defense might be more valuable in AT&T Park than anywhere else in baseball.
  4. The current Giants starting outfield is comprised of Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, and Austin Slater (all real baseball players).
  5. The Giants have plenty of potentially dead money that they might prefer to convert into Heyward.

Of course, like we said before, for a swap like this to make any sense at all for the Cubs, they’d either have to be getting usable pieces more valuable to them than Heyward is now (Johnny Cueto would certainly not be it), getting other value (is someone like Will Smith enough to engineer a swap like this, and could the Cubs afford it?), or saving so much payroll space that they could *definitely* pair the trade with a signing like Bryce Harper.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

I’m still not convinced that trade is out there to be had, with the Giants or anyone else, as far as Heyward is concerned. If this offseason has shown us anything at all, it’s that contracts like Heyward’s – for players like Heyward – are a thing of the past, and that’s before you factor in three disappointing years of service. At $106 million owed over the next five years, Heyward’s contract isn’t just bad, it’s immovable short of getting him down to something more like $30 million owed. Even then, you’d find the market thin.

The Giants are open to this idea in a general matter (we don’t know what they think about Heyward, specifically), so what the heck, we can do some speculating. And it’s the kind of conversation the Cubs should absolutely at least have. But I wouldn’t bet it’s anything more than that. Ultimately, my guess is that the market out there for Heyward would require such a large sum of cash that the Cubs are just better off keeping Heyward, who, hey, you know, remains an actually useful player.

For much more on this possible match between the Cubs and Giants, see our earlier deeper dive.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.