Giants

Giants CEO Larry Baer: 'We're gonna be a buyer if we can be a buyer'

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Giants CEO Larry Baer: 'We're gonna be a buyer if we can be a buyer'

The non-waiver MLB trade deadline is rapidly approaching as teams must make a deal by 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday. With the Giants, going into Friday night's game, 5.5 games back in the NL West and 4.5 games in the NL wild card race, what will the front office do? 

On Thursday, Giants CEO Larry Baer joined KNBR to talk about the team and the upcoming trade deadline. Right away, Baer made it clear where his head's at with this team. 

"It's pretty clear to us that we're not in a seller mode," Baer said. 

That doesn't mean the Giants won't make a move. But it gets a bit complicated. The goal for the Giants is that if they have to trade a player, it's still to add as well.

"Now we may make a move to clear space, then make another move to add," Baer explained. "If you have to move somebody to add somebody -- move Player Y to add Player X -- then you can do that. 

"We're not really walking in the room scratching our heads with buyer versus seller. We want to improve the team and we want drive to get there at the end of September to be a playoff team and go from there. That's what we're gonna do." 

The Giants made it clear in the offseason they had no plans to rebuild, even after a 98-loss season. Throughout the winter, the front office preached their message of a "reload" over a "rebuild." 

"We're gonna be a buyer if we can be a buyer," Baer made clear on KNBR. 

Starting with a 7-5 loss to the Brewers on Thursday night, the Giants are in a critical four-game home series with the team who currently sits atop the wild card standings. These four games could be a big factor in how the Giants view themselves for the trade deadline. 

"We have a shot and we wanna take that shot," Baer said on the playoffs. 

As far as the market on the trade deadline goes, Baer stated how a lot of big names have been moved early this year. He also said there's been a premium on bullpen arms, and the front office feels confident in the current construction of the bullpen, especially when Hunter Strickland returns. 

No matter what the Giants do at the deadline, help is on the way. Evan Longoria returned to the lineup on Thursday night, Joe Panik began his rehab assignment in Sacramento, and Strickland isn't too far away either. 

Could Giants trade Madison Bumgarner? Here's why Buster Olney believes so

Could Giants trade Madison Bumgarner? Here's why Buster Olney believes so

Madison Bumgarner forever will be a Giants legend for his 2014 playoff heroics. There was no way that former general manager Bobby Evans could emotionally separate Bumgarner from the Giants and trade the team's ace. 

Farhan Zaidi, the Giants' president head of baseball operations, doesn't hold the same history with Bumgarner, though, and that could be a good thing, writes ESPN's Buster Olney, who believes the left-hander's recent production shows the team should entertain a trade now sooner than later.

Bumgarner is 29 years old, and is scheduled to hit the open market after the 2019 season when his eight-year, $58.06 million contract comes to an end. Injuries from a dirt bike accident and a line drive off his hand in his last start of spring training have sidelined Bumgarner the last two years. When healthy and on the field, though, he hasn't been his former dominant self.

[RELATED: Giants Review: Bumgarner beset by injury for second consecutive year]

Over the last two years, Bumgarner has started 38 games, or four less than his dominant 2016 season. In that span, he has gone 10-16 with a 3.29 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 240.2 innings. It might all start with his slight dip in velocity. 

Since 2014, Bumgarner's average fastball, four-seam or two-seam, has slightly been slower, according to numbers from FanGraphs. He sat at 92.1 mph in 2014, was the same in 2015, fell to 90.9 in 2016, bumped up to 91 mph in 2017, and was back down to 90.9 mph this past season. 

Bumgarner also relied much more on his off-speed pitches than his fastball in 2018, according to FanGraphs. The lefty threw his fastball just 34.2 percent of the time last season, the lowest percentage of his MLB career. His fastball was heavily replaced by his curveball, which he threw a career-high 22.8 percent.

The rate of hard contact by opposing batters against Bumgarner also has increased every year since 2014, and reached a career high in 2018. According to FanGraphs, since 2014, Bumgarner's hard contact rate has gone from 26.9 percent, to 27.8 percent, to 31.6 percent, to 35 percent, and finally all the way to 41.6 percent last season. 

Here's the reality of the situation: The Giants have been awful the last two seasons, and while Bumgarner has been far from that, he's simply not his past self. He has to rely more on his off-speed as his fastball is slower and less effective, and batters are hitting him harder and harder. 

A contender will pony up for Bumgarner because of his playoff history, and he still can be at least a No. 2 on a playoff team. Is now the time to take advantage of the market? 

[RELATED: Farhan Zaidi says it's 'not absolutely necessary' for Giants to hire GM]

“Where we are, everything has to be on the table in terms of how we move this team and roster forward,” Zaidi said on a possible Bumgarner trade at his Giants introductory press conference. 

No matter if it's figuratively or literally, Bumgarner will go down as a Forever Giant. How much longer he toes the rubber at AT&T Park could be a different story, though. 

MLB rumors: Giants among nine Nathan Eovaldi suitors in free agency

MLB rumors: Giants among nine Nathan Eovaldi suitors in free agency

Nathan Eovaldi is a classic risk-versus-reward case. 

The right-hander is coming off a Madison Bumgarner-esque playoff run in which he had a 1.61 ERA over 22.1 innings in helping lead the Red Sox to a World Series title. He also already has gone through two Tommy John surgeries.

The postseason dominance is hard to ignore, though, and the Giants reportedly are eyeing the starting pitcher in free agency, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Sunday.

[RELATED: MLB free agency debate: Where will Nathan Eovaldi sign this offseason?]

Cafardo noted that Eovaldi's preference is to return to Boston, and the writer lists the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays and Padres as other teams showing interest. 

It's easy to forget Eovaldi still is just 28 years old -- he'll turn 29 in February. After making his MLB debut at 21 years old for the Dodgers in 2011, Eovaldi was traded one year later to the Marlins, and he already has pitched on five different teams.

He missed the entire 2017 season because of Tommy John surgery. 

Farhan Zaidi, Giants president of baseball operations, has a history of giving contracts to pitchers with injury issues in their past. And there's an occurring theme. 

As Dodgers general manager, Zaidi signed Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Rich Hill to contracts worth three years and $48 million. Eovaldi, however, is expected to demand more.