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Kurtenbach: The SF Giants are playing good baseball. That means it’s time to sell

Kurtenbach: The SF Giants are playing good baseball. That means it’s time to sell

By any reasonable account, the San Francisco Giants are playing good baseball.

This past weekend’s series loss in Cleveland notwithstanding, the Giants have won series against the Cubs, Braves, and even the Dodgers in recent weeks, putting the squad within a series of a .500 record.

What this nice stretch has not done is put the Giants any closer to a wild-card berth.

This team is still treading water — San Francisco was 3.5 games back of that third National League wild-card spot as of Monday morning — but is in fact in a worse position compared to when this nice run started on June 24.

We need to be realistic about what we want from this Giants team.

We all know what ownership wants — they’re all about any plan to “somewhat break even.”

But what about the front office? What about the fan base?

Surely neither can believe that the Giants are a player addition or two away from serious contention come October.

And while I’m sure everyone would enjoy a playoff berth, are more than a few games in the postseason really in the cards for this roster — even with a couple of starting pitchers expected to arrive in the second half?

Is playing a couple of games in October worth selling part of this team’s future?

I don’t think that’s justifiable.

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Frankly, I already see this season as a win for the Giants. After years of platoons, they’ve found some cornerstone, everyday players: Matt Chapman has been outstanding, Patrick Bailey has done anything but sophomore slump, and Heliot Ramos has been a revelation (and an All-Star), even playing some plus center field (a position vacated by the injury to another everyday player, Jung Hoo-Lee).

Add in Logan Webb, Camilo Doval, and perhaps even Kyle Harrison and Hayden Birdsong, the Giants finally have a foundation — a base on which to further build.

Not making the playoffs for three years has fans antsy. If my inbox and KNBR callers are any indication a large plurality if not the majority of Giants fans have abandoned director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and his newfangled approach that uses “numbers” and “statistics”. (But please, show me the successful team operating solely on “baseball instincts” and “gut”… I’ll wait… and wait… and wait.)

Those folks will not like this take. So be it.

But looking around baseball, the best course of action for the Giants between now and the July 30 trade deadline is to sell.

It seems to me that it’s a perfect scenario for San Francisco. Thanks to baseball’s plan to incentivize mediocrity, there are 13 teams in the National League in the hunt for six playoff spots.

There are only 15 teams in the league. The majority of teams in the American League are in or reasonably near a playoff position, too.

That’s a lot of buyers and not enough sellers.

And few quality sellers, at that, seeing as there are, what, five good, available players on the White Sox, Rockies, and Marlins combined?

Forget “somewhat breaking even” — the Giants’ front office has an incredible opportunity to turn a big profit on players in the trade market.

Moving a solid, ready-for-impact bat like Michael Conforto, Thairo Estrada, or LaMonte Wade Jr. to a team that wants to make a serious push should bring back a serious prospect, or two.

And I’m not talking about the single-A, wait-for-four-years variety, either.

The Giants have a middle-of-the-road farm system. There are some solid prospects in it, to be sure, but not nearly enough to replicate an Orioles-like explosion.

The current team is fine. Old, but fine. Its outlook for the future is fine. This team is stuck on a treadmill of mediocrity. (And perhaps that’s the plan.)

But by taking a half-step back this season (if that), there’s a chance to take two steps forward in future seasons.

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While another team might look at Wade as an answer to their first base or outfield shortcomings — a solid, if unspectacular piece that fills out their lineup — I think it’s fair to wonder what the Giants would be losing if he went out the door.

Wade is a strong, positive player, to be sure — a Statcast darling who is putting up big numbers in the areas stat dorks like me love — but he’s also a 30-year-old who was a platoon player up until this season who is going into his final year of team control in 2025.

More importantly, for as important as his bat seems to be to the lineup, the Giants were mediocre with and without him this season.

I’m not suggesting San Francisco sell him for cents on the dollar. Quite the opposite. In this trade market, you should be able to net surplus value, and I think it would be foolish for the Giants to pass on that. (And let’s not pretend as if every player doesn’t have a proprietary, singular quotient value next to their name on spreadsheets and databases all across baseball.

Will the Giants lose something if they have to play David Villar at first every day? Perhaps. We saw what they lost when they inexplicably played Trenton Brooks for 12 games.

But one could have made the same argument about playing Ramos not too long ago and yet he’ll be one of two Giants playing a game at the start of next week. Isn’t it time to see if Villar (27) can sink or swim at the big-league level?

Whether he can or not, I don’t think the Giants’ season will be defined by swapping out Wade for Villar.

Nor would it be the same for Luis Matos or Conforto or Mike Yastrzemski?

Or Brett Wisely for Estrada?

We don’t yet know what those players can do if truly given an everyday role.

We do know what the stalwarts at those positions can do, and it’s uninspiring at best. Why not mix it up?

That’s if the price is right, of course.

In this trade market, it might be even more than that.

And that makes the time right to sell.