The San Francisco Giants have a long way to go. When you watch them, it’s not hard to see. Yet, it isn’t clear whether they have realized that the window to win now is almost closed.
Moves, or a lack thereof, at the trade deadline suggest that answer is no — they believe they can continue to compete with the core they have.
The Giants kept assets such as Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik and Hunter Pence. The only trade of note was Eduardo Nunez to the Boston Red Sox, which netted two mid-level prospects.
The lack of aggressiveness in selling is why I suggested a month ago that if they believe they can contend, they should consider trading for Giancarlo Stanton.
If the Giants take the long view, they will see a team filled with aging veterans and a farm system with little talent to speak of. The future of one of the most successful franchises in recent history is bleak, at best; trading for Stanton would then make little to no sense.
San Francisco has three players that would interest most, if not all, teams around the league: Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Madison Bumgarner.
Posey and Crawford are great — there is no denying that — but if the Giants want to get back to contention sooner rather than later, trading Bumgarner may be their best bet.
Yes, trading a player of Bumgarner’s caliber would seem questionable on the surface, but if you dig deeper and look at it from a broader perspective, it would make sense.
He is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball when healthy, something that hasn’t been a problem for him in his career (other than a four-wheeling accident at the start of the 2017 season). In the playoffs on the brightest stage, Bumgarner has played his best baseball. There’s a convincing argument the Giants would not have won without his stellar performances, both as a starter and reliever, against the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.
Bumgarner is still only 28 years old and has plenty of prime playing seasons left.
He also has one of the most team-friendly contracts in baseball and is signed through 2019.
All of the above make him the most attractive trade candidate on the pitching market if the Giants make him available for a trade — more than Gerrit Cole, more than any other pitcher who has a chance to be made available.
“Teams would be lining up for a piece of that,” one competing executive said on Bumgarner. “Us included. Pitchers with his experience and that contract rarely come free,” the executive continued. “I’d give up the farm to get him. He’s that good.”
That’s what it will take, too.
“I’d say two high-end and higher-level prospects,” one scout said. “My guess is they will want something close to MLB ready, then two other good prospects.”
“Without knowing contracts entirely off-hand, I would imagine it’s in the Chris Sale trade range,” another scout with an American League team said.
Sale, of course, was sent to the Boston Red Sox in a deal that brought two top prospects, Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada, as well as pitcher Victor Diaz and outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe.
One team that has been speculated upon as a potential landing spot for Bumgarner is the Atlanta Braves, who have the ammunition to pull the trigger on a Bumgarner deal.
“I’m not sure if they are interested, but they’re a fit,” one executive opined. “They have actively looked for a top-of-the-rotation starter for over a year. Why wouldn’t they explore [Bumgarner]?”
Atlanta has prize prospect Ronald Acuna, who would likely interest the Giants, but the Braves have no interest in dealing him, league sources tell FanRag Sports. Could Dansby Swanson work? Kolby Allard?
It remains to be seen. There is plenty of skepticism that the Giants would even entertain the idea of trading Bumgarner, with one high ranking official saying, “I can’t really see it.”
Dealing Bumgarner would be a tough pill to swallow, but if doing so gets the Giants back to relevance sooner rather than later, it’s something they should sincerely pursue — sooner rather than later.