LOS ANGELES -- Max Muncy will hit cleanup for the Dodgers on Thursday night against Madison Bumgarner, and he made sure to wear a reminder of what that might mean, just in case anyone had forgotten in the last 11 days.
Muncy took batting practice wearing a "Go Get It Out Of The Ocean" t-shirt, a reference to his post-game quip after his yelling match with Bumgarner.
(Sidebar: IT'S NOT EVEN AN OCEAN, MAX.)
Muncy took his time getting out of the box on June 9 when he homered off Bumgarner in their last matchup and the pitcher yelled at him to hurry up. Bumgarner was not on the field before the game, but most Giants hitters had started stretching as Muncy finished up. Manager Bruce Bochy didn't appear to be a fan of the t-shirt. He said it would have been best for both sides to just let this go.
"That's poking the bear," Bochy said. "You poke the bear enough and you can't be upset if he bites back."
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Bochy would not say what kind of bear Bumgarner is, but he brought up his ace's own post-game comments -- his desire to play his own brand of baseball -- and said he appreciates the way Bumgarner competes.
"They want to let kids play, but he's fiery," Bochy said. "I'll miss that as much as anything, the way this man plays."
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.
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.