Giants

Bumgarner will 'for sure' do Home Run Derby if invited

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Bumgarner will 'for sure' do Home Run Derby if invited

UPDATE (Wednesday at 1:30pm) -- Las Vegas betting website Bovada.lv is offering odds on whether or not Madison Bumgarner will compete in this year's Home Run Derby.

Bumgarner is getting 5/1 odds to compete and 1/10 odds not to compete.

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SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner made it clear Tuesday that he wants to participate in the Home Run Derby at next month’s All-Star Game. He also gave a pretty unimpeachable reason why the Giants shouldn’t use injury concerns as a reason to keep him out of it.

“I mean, they had me ride a horse on the field, so if they trust me with something like that with 40-some-thousand people going crazy and I can’t do baseball activities, that’s a little bit different,” Bumgarner said, referring to a ceremony last April. “We’ll talk about it for sure. I’m not trying to say that this is a done deal or anything like that.”

The concept is certainly moving along quickly, though. Bumgarner has long been considered a fearsome hitter, but he added new levels to the reputation on the last road trip. Bumgarner homered in Atlanta and then hit a ball into the upper deck during batting practice at Busch Stadium on Sunday. Cardinals employees said they had only seen a handful of position players ever hit that deck, one level above “Big Mac Land.”

ESPN, which broadcasts the Derby, seems all-in on the concept of a fearsome pitcher taking part. Buster Olney discussed it in a column and on the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. Two days later, Bumgarner didn't back down.

“I’ll do it for sure,” Bumgarner said. “If they ask me to do it, I’ll do it.” 

[RELATED: Dodgers' Pederson pushes for Bumgarner in Home Run Derby]

He made it clear that he’s not politicking to enter the event, which has always been reserved for the game’s most powerful position players. ESPN approached him and asked if he would be interested.

“I said yes,” Bumgarner said. “I didn’t go up and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to get me in the Home Run Derby.'”

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There’s just one hurdle remaining. Manager Bruce Bochy said he’s aware of the push to get Bumgarner in the Derby and he will soon talk to Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean to see what the organization will decide. 

“Your initial feelings are to keep him out of it because I know how competitive he is and how hard he’ll swing, but at the same time I think it’ll create interest with fans getting to watch one of the best pitchers in the game swing the bat,” Bochy said. 

Teams are generally concerned about players losing their level swings during the contest, but that won’t be a problem for Bumgarner. Every swing he takes — from batting practice to starts to the occasional pinch-hit appearances — is meant to hit the ball over the fence.

“I don’t worry about him losing his swing as much as him going out there and swinging as hard as he can and hurting his oblique or something,” Bochy said. 

For the Giants, the concern is actually that Bumgarner will do too well, advancing into later rounds. That way he would end up taking dozens of full-strength swings with long breaks in-between. Bumgarner isn’t worried about getting hurt. He has proven to be as durable as any player in the sport, and he’s anxious to get a second shot at a home run contest. He took part in one during a high school All-Star event and finished one homer short of advancing to the final round.

“I’d like to think (I’d do) pretty good but you never know,” he said. “Hitting is not the easiest thing in the world to do, so there’s always a chance you go out there one day and you just ain’t going to have it.”

Bumgarner’s history says he would do well. He has 13 career homers, and when he hit one last week a Twitter account called “Ace of MLB Stats” revealed the stunning stat that Bumgarner had as many homers — 11 — as Bryce Harper and Mike Trout over each player’s previous 190 plate appearances. That’s not a fluke, either. Bumgarner regularly sees a collection of sliders and pitches in the dirt from opposing pitchers.

“I don’t think I could get pitched any tougher than I am right now,” he said. “They’re making it tough.”

The Derby would be all BP fastballs, and there should be a final decision soon. Bochy said he would huddle with the brain trust and Bumgarner and make a decision, since the All-Star Game is just over a month away. If Bumgarner’s greatest moment, Game 7, taught us anything, it’s that the ace usually comes out on the winning end of conversations about what he should do on the field.

MLB rumors: Why Giants should trade for Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray

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MLB rumors: Why Giants should trade for Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray

The Sonny Gray era in New York appears to be coming to an end, and the Giants should pounce at the chance to add the former Cy Young candidate. 

According to Fancred's Jon Heyman, the Yankees are pushing hard to complete a Gray trade soon. He also lists the Giants as one of seven teams that have been involved as possible partners, and perhaps recent favorites.

Why would the Giants want to trade for someone that had a 4.90 ERA in only 130 innings and a whopping 1.50 WHIP last season? The numbers aren't that simple. 

It all starts with Yankee Stadium, or "The Sandbox in the Bronx." Gray had a brutal 6.98 ERA in 15 games in his home park in 2018, but a great 3.17 ERA in 15 games away from it. His WHIP went from 1.91 in New York to 1.16 at all other ballparks. 

The Yankees are known as the Bronx Bombers for a reason. They turn games into Home Run Derby in their own backyard. Now imagine being on the other side of the ball, the one who throws the pitches and sees a pop-up turn into a jog around the bases. 

When looking at Park Factors, which compares the rate of stats at home versus the rate of stats on the road, Yankee Stadium was the sixth-best home run park in the league. It's no coincidence Gray allowed 11 home runs there and only three on the road. 

By comparison, AT&T Park Oracle Park was the second-worst ballpark for home runs last season by Park Factors. 

It's well known that the Giants play in one of the most pitcher-friendly places in all of baseball. Gray has never had the luxury of pitching in San Francisco -- he's also never pitched at Petco Park (Padres) or Coors Field (Rockies) -- but he's only allowed two earned runs in 15.1 innings combined at Chase Field (Diamondbacks) and Dodger Stadium. 

Gray, 29, could thrive in a new environment like San Francisco -- especially by working with his old pitching coach Curt Young again. Young was Gray's pitching coach on the A's, when Gray had his most success (including a third-place finish for the Cy Young Award in 2015).

As Gray is a free agent after 2019 season, he could either help the Giants contend this season or become a valuable trade chip if San Francisco is out of the playoff hunt by the July 31 trade deadline. 

In an offseason where bringing back Derek Holland has been the biggest move, it's time to take a chance and make it Sonny in the Bay again.

Giants Mailbag: Is there an ideal fit still out there on the market?

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Giants Mailbag: Is there an ideal fit still out there on the market?

SAN FRANCISCO — On Friday, we will be one month from the first full-squad workout at Scottsdale Stadium.

If the Giants gathered today, they would look eerily similar to the team that finished far out of contention last season. 

That should change, of course. Team officials expect to make multiple additions over the next three weeks, taking advantage as prices continue to fall for the dozens of quality free agents still on the market. Trade talks have remained steady, too. 

But right now, we’re still in the midst of an extremely quiet offseason. On Wednesday, Ahmed Fareed joined me for a lengthy podcast that went over the slow pace, the Harper-Machado markets, the issues with the CBA, young players vying for jobs and much more. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. 

Thank you to everyone who sent questions along. There were so many that it’s time to add a mailbag to the podcast … 

Sign Marwin Gonzalez as a super utility, seems like a Zaidi kinda guy, provided he’s not too expensive. Then look to trade him at the deadline to a team in the hunt. - @brayden_cleland

Longtime listeners of the podcast know that Gonzalez has been my target throughout this offseason. He could be the opening day left fielder and provide depth throughout the infield, and he would add some pop. He has been connected to some contenders — primarily the Braves, lately — but for the most part, he has been out of the headlines.

It’s possible Gonzalez is waiting to see where Harper and Machado end up, knowing that the teams that miss out will have plenty of money left to spend. 

The second part of this question is interesting to me because we don’t quite know what Zaidi thinks of no-trade clauses. Bobby Evans handed them out to just about everyone, and the Giants are paying for that. You can bet Zaidi would like to avoid doing the same. But it’s possible that veterans — like Gonzalez — will make that a prerequisite of signing with a team that’s not looking like a contender. It’ll be interesting to see how Zaidi handles the no-trade issue. 

Will Watson and Smith both be traded this year? What teams do you think are the best trade partners? - @Dc_cargo

I would be surprised if they’re both on the Opening Day roster. Ahmed made a good point on the podcast, predicting that the Giants will actually make their trade during spring training. There will be a team that loses a valuable reliever to injury during spring training, and perhaps that’s when Zaidi will pounce. 

Before then, I still think there’s a strong chance that Smith gets dealt. Team officials were awfully shy about naming him the closer when they gathered in Las Vegas last month, and they’ve made no secret of the fact that they get calls on Smith. Andrew Baggarly mentioned the Angels as a team that’s been hot on Giants relievers.

This is just my speculation, but if the Red Sox aren’t able to bring Kimbrel back, Smith could make a ton of sense for them. With Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton in New York, the Red Sox certainly have some work to do to keep up with their rival. 

How does the Giants brass feel about possibly sharing Oracle Park with the Raiders next season? - @SportsAnthony

I’m sure there are mixed feelings throughout the organization. Some people I’ve talked to were shocked that this was an option, but at the same time, it could bring some serious cash into the organization, and this remains a business.

The Giants looked seriously into having an XFL team play at AT&T Park when that league reboots, so they’re prepared to continue hosting occasional football games. I checked on this about a week ago and was told it’s still possible that the Giants and Raiders strike a deal. 

Is Zaidi going to keep the infield and try to trade bullpen pieces for a veteran outfielder? Also, how does the rotation stack up for you? Bum, D Rod, Holland, Suarez, Stratton? Will they trade Samardzija? Will Pablo and Longoria platoon at third? Better athlete...Ahmed or Alex. - @Hardeepd2

A lot to unpack here. If the Giants do trade a Smith or Watson, they won’t be aiming to get veterans back. The goal in any deal right now is to get young cost-controlled contributors who have options remaining. Think of it as trying to get another team’s Andrew Suarez or Steven Duggar. Zaidi wants flexibility. 

It’s just about impossible to trade a guy with a shoulder injury, so the best the Giants can do with Samardzija is hope he’s healthy — his throwing program is said to be going well — and run him out there as part of the rotation, either for their own benefit or to rebuild his trade value before July 31. Right now, it’s Bumgarner, Rodriguez, Holland, Samardzija, and Suarez in some order. 

RELATED: [What Zaidi learned from Muncy, Taylor discovery]

They won’t put Longoria in a straight platoon, although I think all the veterans will lose some time when the matchups are right. Longoria doesn’t have huge splits but I still think they’ll give him more rest. 

As for the final question, this is certainly something we should have settled when the Giants were losing every day in September and we were trying to figure out what to talk about on the pre-game show … 

Any thoughts on Adam Jones? - @jakewilcken420

On a cheap, one-year deal that puts him in an outfield corner? Sure. There’s no harm in that, and the roster certainly needs a veteran right-handed bat in the outfield. But I think there’s a fine line with some of the remaining veterans. You look over the outfield list and at some point, you reach a point where you might as well throw Williamson, Slater, Shaw, Gerber, and Ferguson out there and let them sink or swim.

A big part of the 2019 season is figuring out who can be part of a more potent team in 2020, and the Giants won’t do that if they give too many at-bats to 33-year-olds.