Giants

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner listed as fourth-best 2020 MLB free agent

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner listed as fourth-best 2020 MLB free agent

The 2019-20 MLB free agent class doesn't have the star power of last offseason's crop, but there are still several franchise-changing players that will be available.

Madison Bumgarner, who was not traded by the Giants prior to the July 31 MLB trade deadline, will test the free agent market for the first time in his career.

Coming off a contract that saw him earn $12 million in each of the last two seasons, this winter is Bumgarner's chance to cash in.

As the 2019 season winds down, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince projected the top 20 free agents-to-be and has the Giants icon ranked No. 4 on the list.

"Despite an overall velocity decline since 2016 and a wealth of big league innings since debuting at age 19, Bumgarner has remained effective this season with increased curveball usage," Castrovince wrote. "Savvy teams might target ways to further tap into his potential as he enters his 30s, and, even in our increasingly analytical age, his pedigree is valued."

The players ranked ahead of Bumgarner are, in order, Astros ace Gerrit Cole, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon and Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg.

After two injury-shortened seasons, Bumgarner stayed healthy this year and will make his 32nd start on Saturday night against the Marlins. If he makes his final two scheduled starts, he will match a career-high with 34.

In his 31 starts this season, Bumgarner has a 3.77 ERA with 184 strikeouts in 188 2/3 innings.

While those numbers are respectable, that ERA would be the worst of his career.

Still, Bumgarner holds tremendous value for any prospective team, including possibly with the Giants. Aside from freak injuries, he's a workhorse who takes the ball every fifth day without complaint.

Bumgarner has one of the most decorated postseason resumes, so perennial contenders like the Yankees and Braves would be perfect fits for the 2014 World Series MVP.

[RELATED: Bumgarner could lead NL in innings pitched]

It will be fascinating to watch the market for Bumgarner play out this offseason. Giants fans understand his value, but MLB teams might not fully appreciate what he brings to the table and undervalue him because he's 30 years old and has never won a Cy Young. But you're paying for the no-nonsense workhorse.

Our advice to interested teams? Back up the Brinks truck for Bumgarner.

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

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USATSI

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. 

[RELATED: Watch Giants prospect get ejected on call by robot ump]

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. 

MLB rumors: Giants interested in Astros' Joe Espada for manager role

MLB rumors: Giants interested in Astros' Joe Espada for manager role

Go ahead and add another name to the candidacy list to take over the Giants' managerial role after Bruce Bochy announced his retirement following the 2019 season.

San Francisco reportedly has asked the Houston Astros for permission to speak to Joe Espada, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Espada also is a candidate for the Cubs' managing job.

Espada, 44, currently is the bench coach for the Astros. His background before joining Houston includes a stint with the New York Yankees as the special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman in 2014, where he later was named the team's third-base coach. Before that, he was the third base coach for the Miami Marlins.  

He also coached the Puerto Rican team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. 

Espada was drafted by the Oakland A's in the second round of the 1996 MLB Draft and spent a decade playing internationally and made it through to Triple-A.

[RELATED: Astros call Giants' Cole 'West Coast guy']

He joins a list of potential Giants managers that includes Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and A's quality control coach Mark Kotsay ... to name a few.

As Heyman points out, this is a younger group of candidates, which appears to be the theme across the board for Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

There surely will be many more names to come before we know who will man the Giants' dugout in 2020.