Giants

If Madison Bumgarner is done in Giants-Dodgers rivalry, it was hell of a run

If Madison Bumgarner is done in Giants-Dodgers rivalry, it was hell of a run

LOS ANGELES -- Three hours before the first pitch Thursday, a few minutes after the Dodgers had started batting practice, Madison Bumgarner strolled onto the field in Giants shorts and flip-flops. He spent some time with Clayton Kershaw, a longtime opponent and friend, and then walked over and spoke with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who greeted Bumgarner with a big hug.

The Dodgers have their own season to worry about, but they knew what this night meant for Bumgarner. Kershaw had earlier told The Orange County Register that "any team that gets him is getting one of the best competitors we've got." Bumgarner's 35th start in a storied rivalry was almost certainly his last, with the strong likelihood that he will be traded in the next six weeks.

The night did not go anywhere close to what Bumgarner hoped. He was shelled, the ball elevating on him in the fourth inning as the Dodgers scored five runs. This was Bumgarner's shortest start against the Dodgers, but that tells you something, too. The left-hander has made more than a season's worth of starts against the Dodgers and put up Cy Young Award-worthy numbers.

If that was truly it, it's worth appreciating what Bumgarner has done against the rival over the past decade, especially given how tough the Dodgers have been on opposing pitchers while winning six consecutive NL West titles. This year's team will cruise to a seventh and has the deepest and most dangerous lineup in the National League, but before Thursday's game, Bumgarner had held the 2019 Dodgers to two earned runs in 19 innings.

"It's who he is," manager Bruce Bochy said before the game. "He's a battler and he competes so well. They have a great lineup and he gives you all he has. He's always had the ability to turn it up, so to speak, or rise to the occasion."

On this night at Dodger Stadium, Bumgarner didn't. But that didn't put too big a dent in his overall numbers. He first faced the Dodgers on September 19, 2009, as a 20-year-old rookie, coming out of the bullpen for a scoreless inning in a blowout loss. That was Bumgarner's second appearance in the big leagues. He struck out Doug Mientkiewicz and Ronnie Belliard. Bochy, apparently unaware of what was to come, pinch-hit for Bumgarner in the bottom of the inning.

Since then, Bumgarner has made 35 starts, facing the Dodgers at least once every season and as many as five times as Bochy sometimes shifted his rotation to get Bumgarner lined up against the Dodgers. He did so again last week. Bumgarner has a 2.72 ERA  and 1.08 WHIP in 225 1/3 innings against the Dodgers, going 15-14 with 8.7 strikeouts-per-nine.

Part of what made Thursday night so surprising was that Bumgarner always has been dominant at Dodger Stadium. His 22 appearances there are more than any park but Oracle and he has a 2.67 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. In 21 previous starts at Dodger Stadium, Bumgarner had pitched seven or more innings 11 times. The only other start that didn't last five innings came eight years ago.

Of course, there's another element to all of this, too. When the Dodgers' pre-game show tried to set the stage for the game, they showed Bumgarner jawing at Yasiel Puig, Max Muncy and Alex Guerrero, but they also showed his home runs. In 76 at-bats against the Dodgers, Bumgarner has 15 hits, including four homers. He took Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke deep and got to Kershaw twice.

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Bumgarner might have thought about all that history at some point Thursday. Asked after the game about it being his last start in the rivalry, he nodded.

"I know it could be," he said. "Not that that had anything to do with the result. Mentally I was in the same place I always am."

The results weren't there, but if that was the last time Bumgarner faced the Dodgers as a Giant, it will still be remembered as a hell of a run.

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

MLB rumors: Cardinals 'entering the fray' to pursue Madison Bumgarner

With the Winter Meetings rapidly approaching, MLB free agency is heating up.

One of the top available pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner -- is expected to be in high demand, particularly now that Cole Hamels has signed with the Braves and Zack Wheeler reportedly has agreed to a five-year contract with the Phillies. For teams who scoff at Gerrit Cole's price tag, Bumgarner might be the logical compromise.

The Giants have been "in communication" with Bumgarner, but rumor has it another interested team has entered the mix.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Thursday that the St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to Bumgarner, citing a source.

St. Louis already has brought back veteran Adam Wainwright on a one-year deal, and after he, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, there appears to be an opening for Bumgarner in the starting rotation. Signing with the Cardinals would not only allow Bumgarner to continue pitching in the National League, but would also allow him to continue taking his own at-bats, which we know he loves so much. He also has been linked to teams such as the Twins and White Sox, but would forfeit his at-bats to a DH in each of those situations.

[RELATED: How Wheeler's reported $118M contract could affect MadBum]

While Bumgarner is expected to receive a contract in excess of $100 million, Feinsand suggests Wheeler's reported $118 million payday might serve to increase the total.

MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

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MLB rumors: Yankees make signing free agent Gerrit Cole top priority

Gerrit Cole is far and away the gem of the 2019 MLB free-agent class.

The former Pirates and Astros ace led the American League in both ERA and strikeouts last season and finished just behind teammate Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young Award race.

The team that historically always has had the deepest pockets in baseball -- the New York Yankees -- have made Cole a priority in free agency, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Thursday, citing a source.

Cole is a Southern California native with familial ties to the Giants, a team that also features one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the MLB. San Francisco also has been mentioned as a destination for the ace, who reportedly desires a return to the West Coast.

But if the Yankees, who always have jumped to outbid every other team for talent in free agency, decide to back up the proverbial Brinks truck for the 29-year-old, the Giants might be swiftly eliminated from contention for Cole.

Reports indicate that Cole’s price tag will “shatter” the record set by David Price when he signed a $217 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2015.

[RELATED: Report: Giants targeted UGA's pitching coach for same role]

While San Francisco has plenty of money to spend this offseason, it likely won’t engage in a bidding war that could approach $300 million.

Even if longtime Giant and current free agent Madison Bumgarner elects to go elsewhere in free agency, it remains to be seen how much money San Francisco would be willing to shell out for an elite talent like Cole in the heart of his prime.