For the first three months of the MLB season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Giants would trade franchise legend Madison Bumgarner before the July 31 MLB trade deadline.
But after winning 12 of their last 14 games, the Giants all of the sudden stand just 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, and the chatter of whether they should actually deal Bumgarner has increased exponentially.
Should they trade him anyway despite the recent hot streak? Or should they hold on to their ace and hope he can lead them to another magical October?
NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Tim Flannery, who coached Bumgarner on Bruce Bochy's staff through 2014, believes that if the Giants don’t sign their ace to a market-value contract extension right now, they have to trade him.
“If you’re going to keep him, you have to re-sign him to market value with an extension now,” Flannery told NBC Sports Bay Area. “You can’t keep him and not sign him. Free agency, as we have seen, is not working with the compensation draft pick connected to a team signing him.”
Indeed, free agency was not kind to pitchers last offseason. Both Dallas Keuchel (Atlanta Braves) and Craig Kimbrel (Chicago Cubs) had to wait until June to sign with their current clubs because of the draft pick compensation rule. Essentially, signing a marquee free agent -- like Bumgarner will be this offseason -- would cost the signing team a draft pick in the 2020 MLB draft.
So for Bumgarner, his market could be tepid this offseason if the Giants hold on to him. But if they trade him this summer, by rule, the draft pick compensation is nullified.
“They owe it to Bumgarner to trade him,” Flannery said, noting how staying put in San Francisco without a new deal could hurt Bumgarner’s earning potential this offseason.
“Bum signed a very team-friendly contract a few years ago. He helped win three world championships and made lots of money for this organization. Now he needs to be treated with class and respect. You either sign him to an extension or trade him so he can get paid and you can get something for him.”
This trade wouldn’t just be the Giants doing charity. Dealing Bumgarner at the deadline instantly would replenish the Giants' farm system and give San Francisco something in return for its ace rather than losing him for nothing in the offseason (other than the aforementioned draft pick compensation).
Although the Giants are surging right now and there’s optimism for ending Bochy’s last season on a high note, this current group still is not a World Series contender. Holding out hope for the pipe dream of Bumgarner putting the team on his shoulders again simply is not worth it.
The Giants need to trade Bumgarner. It’s in Bumgarner’s best financial interest to get traded by the Giants. Barring an in-season extension, this is the only outcome that makes sense for both sides.
Bumgarner forever will be a legend at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. But as Flannery says, it’s in the best interest for all if he dons another uniform come Aug. 1.