Catcher Trade Options: Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, Yorvit Torrealba, and more

With the acquisitions of Carlos Beltran and Jeff Keppinger, the Giants have (kind of) fulfilled their needs at catcher and middle infield; the focus, of course, has now shifted to the Giants’ biggest weakness: catcher.

Since Buster Posey‘s injury, the Giants have gone (for the most part) with a Chris Stewart/Eli Whiteside duo behind the plate. Their production hasn’t been as horrendous as some would say (for example, they’ve hit .233/.333/.356 in July, which is fairly average production from the catching position in this depressed run environment); but overall, the Whiteside/Stewart combo carries a .220/.306/.337 (.285 wOBA) line on the season, and the Giants certainly stand to benefit from an upgrade behind the plate.

So who’s out there?

Ronny Paulino: As the Mets’ backstop, Paulino’s having a pretty nice season, hitting .294/.325/.375 (96 OPS+) in 51 games. He’s only 30 years old, and a career .275/.328/.382 (87 OPS+) hitter, so he seems like a fair bet to continue being a somewhat productive catcher over the rest of the season. And for what it’s worth, based on catcher defense ratings from 2010 and 2011, his defense seems pretty acceptable. He’s under cost control for another year in 2012, so he could serve as the backup catcher next year; one of the best reasonable options out there, though Sandy Alderson has said he’s done making trades.

Miguel Olivo: Under contract through 2012 (with a team option in 2013), though as a Mariner, he’s probably available (at least, I haven’t heard otherwise). By all accounts, he’s an awful hitter, with miserable career walk (4.2%) and strikeout (26.3%) rates, but he’s got enough power such that he’s not entirely worthless (career .180 ISO). Defensively, he’s notoriously bad at pitch-blocking, but is also quite adept at throwing out would-be basestealers. It’s depressing to say, as his plate approach is truly terrible, but he’d be an upgrade for the Giants.

Ivan Rodriguez: Pass.

Chris Iannetta: Similar contract situation to that of Miguel Olivo, and the Rockies are looking to move him. He’s hitting .220/.375 /.402 (102 OPS+) on the season, and has a career OPS+ of 99. He’s no defensive stud, but he’s one of the best options out there. As a member of a division rival, it’d be interesting to see. The Giants haven’t traded with the Rockies since 1998.

Ramon Hernandez: In all aspects, an above-average defensive catcher, and he’s mashing at the plate this year to the tune of a .308/.368/.502 line. With Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Hanigan, I’ve got to think that makes Hernandez expendable (especially considering that he’s only under contract for this season). The latest update, via Henry Schulman, indicates that he is potentially available (in exchange for a pitcher).

Mike Napoli: Yeah….not happening.

Yorvit Torrealba: The Giants should have traded Santiago Casilla for Torrealba when they had the chance, though they wanted the Rangers to cover some (or all?) of his contract for 2012. He’s hitting .261/.297/.385 (82 wRC+) over 274 PAs this season, which is in line with his career wRC+ of 82.

Rod Barajas: He’s been dreadful at the plate this year (.212/.262/.379) as he has throughout his entire career for that matter (.237/.282/.410). He’s got nice power, but I don’t even know if he’s worth pursuing.

Giants Rumors: Carlos Beltran Trade Talks Continue

I’ll continue to update this throughout the day as Carlos Beltran rumors heat up….

» Ken Rosenthal is currently tweeting that Francisco Peguero, Charlie Culberson could be part of a Carlos Beltran offer. As of half an hour ago, Rosenthal tweets that the Giants are front-runners in the Beltran trade talks.

» Jon Morosi tweets that the Giants are willing to include Gary Brown in a deal.

» Tim Brown of Yahoo tweets that it looks like Beltran is “indeed going to SF.”

» Jon Heyman tweets that there are just minor details to work through on a Carlos Beltran trade.

» Joel Sherman tweets that the trade is “not completed,” but everything is in the works to make it happen.

» Per Buster Olney, the deal is almost finished.

» The deal is now “very close.”

» No done deal yet, tweets Jon Morosi.

» Mets are expected to get Gary Brown and two other players in return.

» Mets insisted on Zach Wheeler originally, but Brown seems like the compromise.

» Buster Olney tweets that Wheeler is expected to be the centerpiece.

» Wheeler’s in the deal. Jonathan Sanchez and Gary Brown are not.

» Joel Sherman tweets that it could be Beltran and cash for Wheeler.

Giants Rumors: Colby Rasmus, Carlos Quentin, Carlos Beltran

The latest on Giants trade rumors, speculation, etc.

» This morning, Jon Heyman wrote that the Giants may be the favorites for Carlos Beltran:

The Giants look like a possible favorite for Carlos Beltran — at the moment, anyway. Beltran prefers the National League, the Mets might prefer a division other than the National League East and, according to sources, the Giants understandably have him atop their list.

» Regarding B.J. Upton, Heyman writes that “The Giants were mentioned elsewhere, but Upton is thought to be at best a fall-back option for them since they need a hitter, not another centerfielder.”

» Jayson Stark also wrote about the Carlos Beltran market, noting:

[The Mets] asked the Giants for Zack Wheeler, the best pitcher in their system, or Gary Brown, their most highly rated outfield prospect. “Not happening,” the Giants told them.

He also writes that the Mets could possibly end up just dumping Betran’s salary for a smaller return in prospects:

So it’s possible, perhaps, that the Mets could turn back toward a team like San Francisco, which has indicated a willingness to take Beltran’s contract if it doesn’t have to give up a high-end prospect. And the Mets’ brass would begin gushing about all the great stuff they can do with the 6 million bucks they just dumped.

» Henry Schulman tweets that it’s been made clear to him that “the Reds want to keep their catching tandem intact. Ramon Hernandez is not on the block.”

» Schulman also speculates that the Giants could be interested in White Sox OF Carlos Quentin if he’s on the market. As Ken Rosenthal noted earlier, the White Sox could move Quentin to save money. Although he’s pretty mediocre defensively, Quentin’s hitting .268/.360/.525 (139 OPS+) on the season, and would add some much-needed offense.

» MLB Trade Rumors writes that the Cardinals are shopping Colby Rasmus. As Dan Knobler noted earlier today, the Giants have interest in Rasmus, though he “appears to be strictly a backup plan.” In his trade value series, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs wrote the following about Rasmus:

There’s value in a 24-year-old center fielder with a career 109 wRC+, but Rasmus is not yet an elite player and he’s headed for arbitration at the end of the season. There’s still room for him to become a franchise player, but right now, his value is more potential than production.

If the Giants’ main goal is to improve their team right now, Rasmus doesn’t seem like all that much of a fit. Also, as a player under team control through 2014, the cost to acquire him could be very high.

Giants Rumors: Brian Sabean’s Untouchables, Beltran, Cuddyer

Some Giants notes from the past couple days as the trade deadline approaches…

Jayson Stark’s latest has speculation on the Giants’ untouchables:

Giants GM Brian Sabean told reporters in San Francisco on Sunday that the Giants have three prospects they won’t trade in any deal. One club reports those players are pitchers Zack Wheeler and Heath Hembree and center fielder Gary Brown, along with just-recalled first baseman Brandon Belt.

Extra Baggs noted yesterday that Brian Sabean said “he doesn’t think the Giants can improve their situations at catcher or at shortstop because of the slim pickings.

According to Tim Brown, the Giants (along with the Phillies) are still the favorites to acquire Carlos Beltran, though Brian Sabean has said that the Giants are not close to acquiring him.

Jon Morosi tweets that the Giants remain intrigued by Michael Cuddyer, but according to the Star Tribune (via MLB Trade Rumors), Cuddyer won’t be dealt this season.

Jon Heyman tweets that the Giants have “looked at comebacking of-1b Wily Mo Pena,” though I don’t see how he’d make any sense for the team.

Heyman gave a team-by-team look at the trade market, in which he identified Carlos Beltran and B.J. Upton (two names we’ve been hearing a lot) as trade targets for the Giants.

– Jerry Crasnick just tweeted that there’s no sign of the Mets dropping the price on Carlos Beltran.

Giants Rumors: B.J. Upton a Trade Target?

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Giants are showing interest in Tampa Bay Rays CF B.J. Upton. Upton, 27, is under team control through 2012, and could be an intriguing option for the Giants.

Over the last three years, Upton has hit .239/.318/.403 — good for a 97 OPS+ — while playing above-average defense in centerfield. He strikes out a lot (24.7% career K/PA), but he’s able to maintain a high walk rate, as well as a relatively high batting average on balls in play, so he gets on base at a decent clip (.341 in his career, though it’s been worse in recent years). He’s at the age where a hitter typically begins to peak, so he has more upside than a guy like Carlos Beltran (who’s 34 years old). All in all, he’s posted eight wins above replacement since 2009, so he does have considerable value. Given that he got $4.8MM in arbitration this year, I’d imagine he’ll command something around $6.5MM in the 2012 season, possibly more.

Though he’s got upside, Upton hasn’t been nearly as good as Beltran — who has hit .291/.393/.520 on the season with nearly as many walks as strikeouts — and thus represents only a slight upgrade in the outfield at this point. In addition, it’s slightly worrisome that his bat has declined since his 2007 breakout season, and the package of prospects that the Rays will command in return for Upton will be high.

Unless the Giants believe that he’s a lot better than he’s played so far this season, he’s probably not worth pursuing.