While it's unlikely the Giants will take the extraordinary step of trading Barry Bonds, Sabean wouldn't dismiss that possibility either.
"I don't know if there is (a chance), because of all the factors involved," Sabean said. "And it wouldn't be my decision unilaterally. So it's a complicated question and it's not a simple answer."
Bonds shuffled closer to the all-time home run record Sunday at Fenway Park, hitting a solo shot off Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield for the 748th of his career.
He is seven home runs away from matching Hank Aaron's all-time standard, but Bonds has repeatedly stated that his only goal is to win a World Series ring -- and the chances of doing that with the Giants this season appear slim.
In a wide-ranging discussion with the San Jose Mercury News before Sunday's game, Bonds gave the impression that he would consider waiving his no-trade provision if the club were to explore deals.
"They can trade me," Bonds said. "They can do that. I don't think they will, though. It's not like I want to be traded, man. I'm a Giant. I'm stuck here till the end."
The Giants were swept in three games at Fenway after a 9-5 loss. Their 10-game deficit is their largest on this date since they were 13 out in 1991.
Sabean still believes the offense can rebound and the club can rattle off a winning streak. But he acknowledged that the National League West is a different beast this season; a team with a .500 record probably wouldn't remain a contender into September.
"You try to win every year, and we've certainly done that," Sabean said. "The last two years, even given our fallibility, the races were still something we could be a part of, and that's something you have to try to stay in.
"But there are years, and this could be one of those years, that you have to take a step back and you have to try to be realistic about it."
Despite a mandate from upper management to win every season, Sabean said season-ticket holders would accept a sell-off if things didn't turn around.
"I think if you're honest with people and they understand what the landscape is, they'll be accepting," Sabean said. "I'm confident in that. Our fans are very loyal. To buy their tickets and get their seat licenses, they're making long-term commitments -- some of them for seven years."
Bonds still could instantly have an impact on any lineup, and his baggage would be easier for contending clubs to tolerate if he were a two-month rental. Despite a five-week power slump, his 1.073 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) leads the NL and his 67 walks are the most in the majors.
Bonds has heard pundits opine that he is the major reason the Giants have struggled to score.
"They can blame me," said Bonds, who turns 43 on July 24. "I just want to know how you can blame a guy who's 43 and leading both leagues in walks. Have you ever heard of that before? Ever? I mean, have you?
"That's OK, though. They can blame me."
Aside from Bonds, the Giants have Ray Durham, Omar Vizquel, Rich Aurilia, Matt Morris, Pedro Feliz, Steve Kline and others who could be valuable parts to contending clubs.
But whether a buyer or seller, Sabean said he won't give up young pitching.
Sabean has only been in a selling mode once since taking over the club in 1997. In late August 2005, he traded Deivi Cruz, Michael Tucker and Jason Christiansen in waiver deals for fringe prospects.
Sabean said it's up to the players to turn things around before mid-July and prevent the roster from becoming a junkyard for scavengers.
"Between now and then we hope to get the hell out of last place and be .500 at least," Sabean said.
Contact Andrew Baggarly at email@example.com.