How Giants prospect Joey Bart could be affected by 60-game MLB season

How Giants prospect Joey Bart could be affected by 60-game MLB season

The Giants have been careful not to publicly make any declarations about Joey Bart's timeline, but as one of their top two prospects went through a few weeks of spring action with the big league club, it wasn't hard to picture Bart tearing into Triple-A pitching for a couple of months and then debuting at Oracle Park sometime in late May or June. 

That delayed path, allowing Bart to get more minor league reps, is no longer possible in 2020, but it doesn't sound like that will change plans too much. There was some thought that Bart could make sense on an expanded roster that includes a DH, but on this week's Giants Insider Podcast, manager Gabe Kapler pumped the brakes on the possibility of Bart being on the Opening Day roster. 

"I have no doubt that he has the talent to help us win games this summer," Kapler said. "Do I think that it's likely that his best path to his best career is starting with the major league club? I don't think that's his best path. I think there are other ways to get to the ultimate goal, which is to have him make an impact on the San Francisco Giants roster for 10 years. 

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"I think that we really have to keep the long view in mind here. There's no doubt that he's talented enough to help. I don't know if that right time is at the very beginning of the season in 2020."

Bart, ranked 34th on Baseball-America's latest top 100 prospects list, has played just 130 minor league games since being taken second overall in the 2018 draft. He twice suffered hand injuries last season after getting hit by pitches, but when he was on the field, he showed his potential. Bart had a .824 OPS and 16 homers across two levels and then tore up the Arizona Fall League, posting a .524 on-base percentage and slugging .767 in 10 games before an inside pitch fractured his thumb. This spring, he was 7-for-16 with two homers. 

[RELATED: Everything you need to know about shortened season]

Bart reached Double-A last season and the plan was to start him with Triple-A Sacramento. The Giants will now send their taxi squad there after holding a second spring training at Oracle Park, and Bart will be part of that group. The Giants then would in theory decide between Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman for the backup catcher job, although they have talked of carrying three at some point this season. 

Three members of the taxi squad can travel with the club, but one must be a catcher. Regardless of whether Bart gets that spot, he could still debut with the Giants this season. The expectation is that many members of the taxi squad ultimately will see time on the active roster. 

Madison Bumgarner placed on IL after rough start to D-backs career

Madison Bumgarner placed on IL after rough start to D-backs career

This isn't how anyone expected to expected Madison Bumgarner's career with the Arizona Diamondbacks to begin.

As if his stats weren't already bad enough, the longtime Giants ace was placed on the 10-day injured list for a mid-back strain just four starts into his career in the desert.

Bumgarner allowed six earned runs over only two innings pitched Sunday in Arizona's loss to the San Diego Padres. He also allowed four home runs in a game for the first time in his career. It's now clear his struggles have been more than a rough change of scenery. 

Since the start of the season, Bumgarner has continued a troubling trend. The 31-year-old keeps declining with his four-seam fastball velocity. He topped out at 87.7 mph while getting shelled in San Diego, and his average fastball velocity through four starts this season is 87.8 mph. That's a big difference from his last season in San Francisco.

After a three-year run of his four-seam fastball dropping in velocity, Bumgarner was back up to 91.4 mph last season for the Giants. His decline in velocity this season very well could be due to back issues, but it's concerning nevertheless.

The D-backs signed Bumgarner to a five-year, $85 million contract in December. Meanwhile, the Giants signed starting pitchers Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly and Tyler Anderson to one-year deals. Gausman looked great Sunday against the Log Angeles Dodgers, Smyly has a 3.24 ERA and Anderson's is even lower at 2.14.

[RELATED: Why Kapler pulled Gausman after 80 pitches in Giants' loss]

Bumgarner, on the other hand, leads the league in losses (3), hits (20), earned runs (18), home runs (7) and hit by pitches (4).

Both D-backs and Giants fans alike surely hope this only is a minor setback for Bumgarner in the long run.

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MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

It's extremely common to hear about a player opting out in baseball. Stars have often had opt-out clauses for the final year of their deals, and in recent years many have given themselves the ability to opt out after just a year or two of a massive contract. At the end of every spring, non-roster invitees opt out to look for a better opportunity elsewhere. 

But this season, those two words take on a different meaning. 

Under a March agreement reached by MLB and the Players Association, high-risk players can opt out of the 2020 season because of coronavirus concerns and still get paid. Players who are not deemed to be at a high risk can also opt out while surrendering their 2020 salaries and service time.

On the first day of the week MLB was set to return, four players opted out. Here's a rundown of where the list currently stands:

Mike Leake (Diamondbacks starting pitcher)

The 32-year-old was the first to publicly make his intentions known. Leake's agent told reporters that the right-hander "took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family." There has been some speculation that Leake had family concerns; his father was paralyzed in an accident a few years ago and that's in part why he ended up close to home with the Diamondbacks.

Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals first baseman)

Zimmerman is exactly the type of player you would think of when it comes to guys who had a difficult decision to make in recent weeks. He's 35 and now is a part-time player, and he's set for life financially and got his ring last October. In a statement put out by his agency, he made it clear this is about concerns for his family, which includes a mother with multiple sclerosis:

Joe Ross (Nationals starting pitcher)

Ross, a 27-year-old Bay Area native who is the younger brother of Tyson, also opted out June 29. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Zimmerman and Ross decided "not to participate in the 2020 season for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. We are 100 percent supportive of their decision to not play this year."

Ian Desmond (Rockies outfielder)

The 34-year-old announced his decision at the end of a series of Instagram posts that examined injustices in baseball and society. It was a powerful statement, and one you should read in full here:

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On my mind.

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Tyson Ross (free agent starting pitcher)

It was a bit of a surprise when Ross was released by the Giants last week. As a veteran who could start or come out of the bullpen, he seemed like a good fit for what they were building in March, and an even better fit in a season with no true five-man rotation. But this seems to explain the decision: 

Welington Castillo (Nationals catcher)

The 33-year-old signed a minor league deal with the reigning champs in the offseason and was set to be part of their pool:

David Price (Dodgers Pitcher)

Price was headed for the No. 3 spot in a rotation built to win it all. He said his decision was in the "best interest of my health and my family's health." 

Felix Hernandez (Braves pitcher)

The 2010 AL Cy Young winner was a candidate to fill a rotation spot for a team that should be in the postseason, but his agent made the announcement: 

After spending the first 15 seasons of his career with the Mariners, Hernandez signed a minor-league contract with Atlanta this offseason. He will turn 35 next April, when the 2021 MLB season is expected to start.

Nick Markakis (Braves outfielder)

The veteran outfielder's decision came after Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and other Braves tested positive for COVID-19, which was reportedly a big factor in his decision. Markakis, 36, hit .285 with nine homers last season for Atlanta.

Hector Noesi (Pirates pitcher)

Noesi, 33, went 0-3 and posted an 8.46 ERA across 12 appearances with the Miami Marlins last season. Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton announced the news recently:

Buster Posey (Giants catcher)

The Giants catcher became the biggest name to opt out of the MLB season to date, announcing Friday he won't play in 2020. Posey and his wife just adopted twin girls who were born prematurely last week, and he cited their health as his primary concern.

"After weighing it for a long time, talking to doctors, I just feel like in the current state that we are right now and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months, at minimum, this ultimately wasn't that difficult a decision for me," Posey said. "From a baseball standpoint, it was a tough decision, from a family standpoint and feeling like I'm making a decision to protect our children, I feel like it was relatively easy."

Jordan Hicks (Cardinals Pitcher)

The hardest-throwing man in the game is recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent in June of 2019. But he's also a Type 1 Diabetic which as Belleville News-Democrat reporter Jeff Jones says, could lead to complications from coronavirus. Hicks is the first on this list who is known to be high-risk, and thus he will get to keep his 2020 salary and accrue service time as he sits out. 

Michael Kopech (White Sox pitcher)

The former top prospect missed the entire 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He did not disclose the reasoning behind his decision to opt out.

Collin McHugh (Red Sox pitcher)

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced that the former Astros starter will not be playing in the 2020 season, but did not specify a reason.

Isan Diaz (Marlins infielder)

After the Marlins experienced an outbreak with 18 players in the clubhouse testing positive for coronavirus, Diaz decided to opt out of the remainder of the season on Saturday.

Lorenzo Cain (Brewers outfielder)

Milwaukee has had several games postponed as a result of positive coronavirus tests in the St. Louis Cardinals clubhouse, and a team press release confirmed Saturday that he'll be opting out of the remainder of the season.

Shelby Miller (Brewers pitcher)

The Brewers announced Monday that pitcher Shelby Miller has opted out of the remainder of the season.

Marcus Stroman (Mets pitcher)

Stroman announced that he has opted out of the rest of the 2020 MLB season due to "too many unknowns" around COVID-19