Giants

Giants lefty Will Smith elects for Tommy John surgery, out for season

Giants lefty Will Smith elects for Tommy John surgery, out for season

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Will Smith has elected to have Tommy John surgery, leaving a gaping hole in the Giants' bullpen. Surgery, which will cost Smith at least a year, was the recommendation of both doctors Smith saw over the past week.

"It's not what I was hoping for, but we sat down and looked at the options and this makes the most sense," he said. "I'll miss the 2017 season and be ready full-tilt in 2018."

Smith missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned to the mound, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain. A second MRI revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki and flew to Los Angeles to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. Dr. ElAttrache will perform the surgery next week.

Smith said other options were discussed, but if stem cells or rehab failed, he would miss two full seasons.

"That was the deciding factor," he said. "Baseball is what I love to do. As soon as they said I could miss two years, that decided it for me. I can't miss two years. That's too big a roll of the dice."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford and catcher Andrew Susac. He finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bruce Bochy said Thursday. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one. 

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

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

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

Farhan Zaidi doesn't hold the same history with Bumgarner, and that could be a good thing, writes ESPN's Buster Olney, who believes Bumgarner's recent production shows the team should entertain a trade now sooner than later. 

Bumgarner is 29 years old and hits the open market after the 2019 season when his eight-year, $58.06 million contract comes to an end. Injuries from a dirk 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: Madison Bumgarner beset by injury for second straight 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 may all start with his slight dip in velocity. 

Since 2014, Bumgarner's average fastball, four-seam or two-seam has slightly been slower. 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 than his fastball in 2018. The left-hander only threw his fastball 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 has also increased every year since 2014 and reached a career high in 2018. 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 postseason history and he can still 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 Giants. 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.