Down on the Farm: Giants lose promising pitching prospect in trade with Rangers


Down on the Farm: Giants lose promising pitching prospect in trade with Rangers

In a bit of a surprise, the Giants made big roster moves Sunday in a trade with the Rangers that will send Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin to Texas. The third name in this trade is the one to know, and the one the Giants hope they won't regret. 

This trade was essentially a salary dump as the Rangers will reportedly take on all of Jackson's remaining salary. With handing off money to the Rangers' bank account comes the loss of an emerging prospect. Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the Giants' moves is the loss of starting pitcher Jason Bahr. 

At 23 years old, Bahr is one of the Giants' highest risers on the bump. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of Central Florida, Bahr has stifled batters at two levels this season and how he got here is quite the story.

In college, Bahr stepped on to campus as a walk-on in 2014, redshirting the same year. He recorded three walks and two strikeouts in 2015 and was then cut the next year. That didn't stop Bahr though and somehow didn't stop his career as a Golden Knight.

After impressing a new coaching staff over the summer, Bahr was back at UCF as a redshirt junior in 2017 and finished the season second in Division I with 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Bahr appeared in 24 games, making five starts, and struck out 98 batters in 60.2 innings with a 0.94 WHIP. 

With low mileage on his raw right arm, Bahr is only getting better. And it's showing this season. The lanky 6-foot-5 right-hander started the season off in Augusta and impressed after 13 starts. In his time with the GreenJackets, Bahr went 6-4 with a 2.75 ERA and struck out 88 batters in 68.2 innings. His time in Class A prompted a promotion to Advanced Single-A and Bahr kept on rolling in San Jose. 

"It's really not normal for us with our past practices," GM Bobby Evans said on the Giants trading Bahr. "It's the price of doing business for us. Jason's going to do well wherever he goes and obviously we wish him well. It's just important to get Duggar and Black up here and compete in this division."

Jumping a level, Bahr didn't allow a single earned run in his first two starts for the San Jose Giants, striking out 10 and walking one in those 12 innings. His final start with San Jose, Bahr allowed three earned runs on three solo home runs and still racked up five strikeouts in four innings. Overall, Bahr is 8-4 with a 2.55 ERA in 84.2 innings this season with Augusta and San Jose. He has also totaled 103 strikeouts to 23 walks with a 1.03 WHIP. 

The Giants are going young, fresh and exciting with the additions of Steven Duggar and Ray Black all while saving money to possibly make a move at the trade deadline. There's always risk with rewards and the front office has to be crossing their fingers that losing Bahr will be worth it in the long run.

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Could Madison Bumgarner's bad road stats hurt him in MLB free agency?

Madison Bumgarner is entering free agency at a curious time in his career. The longtime Giants ace has built a legendary reputation, but plenty of question marks also surround the 30-year-old.

Bumgarner proved he's still a workhorse after missing time the previous two seasons with freak injuries. His 34 starts were tied for the MLB lead, and his 207 2/3 innings pitched ranked second in the NL.

But while looking at Bumgarner's stats from this past season, one thing stands out that could hurt him in free agency and actually help the Giants if they want to bring back the left-hander.

MadBum's home-road splits were staggering in 2019. He was a completely different pitcher in front of the home crowd at Oracle Park, compared to pitching away from San Francisco.

Here are Bumgarner's home stats this past season, compared to when he pitched on the road.

Home: 19 GS, 6-2, 2.93 ERA, 122 2/3 IP, 40 ER, 15 HR, 120 SO, 21 BB, 0.93 WHIP, 5.71 SO/W
Away: 15 GS, 3-7, 5.29 ERA, 85 IP, 50 ER, 15 HR, 83 SO, 22 BB, 1.41 WHIP, 3.77 SO/W

Oracle Park is known as a pitcher's dream. In fact, the Giants' home park was the least favorable for offenses this season by Park Factors, per ESPN. The 11-year veteran used that his advantage, but that luxury didn't follow him on the road.

Bumgarner allowed the same amount of homers in four fewer road games as he did at home. He also walked one more batter and allowed five more hits -- 98 on the road, compared to 93 at home. For someone with a lot of mileage on his arm and his fastball declining in velocity, that's certainly alarming.

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As a pitcher who's never tested the open market and has spent his entire career in a pitcher's paradise, these numbers will be looked at closely by front offices around the league this offseason.

Bumgarner figures to join Gerrit Cole, among others, as the most coveted starting pitchers in free agency. So, while his road numbers could help the Giants in keeping him in San Francisco, they also could prevent the veteran from signing the hefty contract he likely desires.

Alex Dickerson's bright future with Giants clouded by injury concerns


Alex Dickerson's bright future with Giants clouded by injury concerns

SAN FRANCISCO -- Once he hires a manager and general manager, Farhan Zaidi will turn to the heavy lifting. The main goal this offseason is to make the Giants lineup more competitive, particularly at home. It would be a lot easier to do that if the Giants knew exactly what they could count on from a midseason acquisition. 

Alex Dickerson changed the course of the season when he joined the Giants at Chase Field in late June against the Diamondbacks, bringing left-handed thunder to the lineup and life to the dugout as a struggling team briefly put it all together with a memorable July run. But Dickerson's season ended up going a familiar route.

He was available to Zaidi only because he had been unable to stay available for the Padres, and an oblique injury wrecked Dickerson's second half. 

That didn't leave a bad taste in his mouth, though. As Dickerson stood in front of his locker the final week of the season, he pointed out that he didn't play an inning in the big leagues the previous two seasons. 

"I just wanted to get out and compete again, and I knew there were going to be ups and downs," he said. 

The highs were game-changers for the Giants. Dickerson drove in six runs in his Giants debut and didn't slow down until he was forced to the Injured List the first week of August. In 30 games over that stretch, he hit .386 with six homers, 10 doubles, 23 RBI and a 1.222 OPS. The Giants went 20-10 when he was in the lineup. 

That's certainly not sustainable, but nothing about what Dickerson was doing looked particularly flukey, either. He has always flashed power and he showed good plate discipline and a short swing that first month. 

The oblique injury put a halt to all that, and when Dickerson returned, it was touch-and-go the rest of the way. He never felt quite comfortable, hitting .164 with three extra-base hits over his final 67 at-bats, which were scattered because he was able to start only 14 times the final six weeks. 

Looking back, Dickerson feels he returned earlier than he should have, but he has no regrets because the Giants were trying to stay in the race. He said his swing got out of whack and he was never able to find it again because he didn't go through a normal rehab process. 

There were positives, though. Dickerson's surgically-repaired back and elbow were not an issue, and he plans to be aggressive in attacking the oblique pain this offseason. Dickerson said he will do additional research and talk to as many experts as he can in an attempt to increase his core mobility and make sure the oblique pain does not return. For the first time in a long time, he's not rehabbing going into the offseason. That's a comforting feeling. 

"It'll just be a normal offseason and building up and getting in shape to hopefully play a full season next year," he said. 

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Given Dickerson's history -- he has never played more than 84 games -- the Giants can't count on a full year. But they're hopeful that Dickerson, who is arbitration-eligible and a lock to return, can be part of the solution. They can manage his health as long as that bat is still helping win games. 

"With the impact potential he showed, he's going to play as much as his body will allow," Zaidi said.