Giants

MLB free agency debate: Where will Michael Brantley sign this offseason?

MLB free agency debate: Where will Michael Brantley sign this offseason?

Editor's note: Each day this week, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and A's reporter Ben Ross will debate where one of the top five free agents might land this offseason. Tuesday's free agent to discuss is Michael Brantley, an three-time All-Star outfielder who has spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians.

ALEX: Ben, yesterday we went right to the top of the market and discussed Bryce Harper. If you're looking for outfield help -- and a lot of teams are -- it gets kind of sketchy after Harper.

Andrew McCutchen still is a good player, but he's no longer an MVP candidate. A.J. Pollock has had a ton of injury issues. Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and others are really getting up there in age. But I'm intrigued by Michael Brantley, who has never really lived up to the hype because of his own injuries. If you're looking for a guy who has a moderate amount of pop and gets on base at a high rate -- hellooooo, Giants -- he could be your guy.

BEN: He might be a great fit for the Giants, but the A’s already have enough outfielders, for a fraction of the cost. What have you heard about the Giants’ interest in Brantley? Where else do you think he could end up?

ALEX: I haven't heard anything concrete regarding their interest, but I think he's an interesting case. On one hand, they've been burned over and over again by giving money to position players -- particularly outfielders -- in their 30s. But they also have two corner outfield spots open and desperately need established hitters.

Brantley, who has always been a good OBP guy, would fit in that respect. Perhaps Farhan Zaidi can pull a Chris Taylor or Max Muncy out of another organization, but if Brantley's price drops, he could be a fill-in for a couple of seasons.

I wonder if he'll end up with a team that missed out on Harper and still has that need. The Phillies could fit there. The Braves have been a rumored destination. Maybe the White Sox? Who am I missing?

BEN: I think he makes a lot of sense in San Francisco. As you mentioned, he has a great career OBP with decent power and speed. It looks like he'll probably get around $15 million per year, which is reasonable for a back-to-back All-Star.

I think the Phillies and Braves both make a lot of sense, especially if Philadelphia doesn't land Bryce Harper. Maybe the Nationals if Harper leaves? He also could be a nice A.J. Pollock replacement in Arizona, although Pollock plays center. How about the Rockies? Both Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra are free agents.

ALEX: It sounds like the Diamondbacks are rebuilding, and I think the Rockies need to spend that money elsewhere. This feels like a #MysteryTeam situation, but in the end, I'll go with a safe prediction.

I think Brantley ends up with the Braves as a Nick Markakis replacement, but the twist will be that it'll be a shorter deal. I don't believe the talk that last year's free agency dip was a one-year thing. I think the second tier of veterans again will struggle to get those long-term deals, so I'll put Brantley down for a two-year, $32 million deal. What's your call?

BEN: It sounds like the Braves are pushing hard for Brantley, so they're my prediction, too. As you said, they need a Markakis replacement. Brantley played his college ball at Coastal Carolina University, which isn't too far from Atlanta. While he's been a bit injury-prone, he's still just 31 years old. I'll say he gets three years, $45 million.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Tuesday is dedicated to free agent outfielder Michael Brantley.
How Brantley could help solve one of the Giants' biggest issues
Why the outfielder-rich A's should pass on Brantley
Does Brantley really fit the White Sox's long-term plan?
Brantley should be far down on Red Sox's free agent list
Phillies should pursue Brantley if they whiff on Harper
Could signing Brantley soften blow of Nats losing Harper?

Giants owe it to Madison Bumgarner to trade him, Tim Flannery says

Giants owe it to Madison Bumgarner to trade him, Tim Flannery says

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.

[RELATED: What Giants draft pick Bishop learned from Bonds]

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.

Kevin Pillar wants to gift Giants tickets to fans after heartwarming clip

Kevin Pillar wants to gift Giants tickets to fans after heartwarming clip

Ready for the cutest thing you'll see today? Maybe even this week? Sure you are.

On Wednesday during the Dodgers-Phillies game, a young Phillies fan snagged a foul ball in the stands. Upon retrieval, without skipping a beat, he handed it to another fan.

But just wait for it:

There are really good people in this world, and Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar noticed that after seeing this clip. He wanted to hook these young guys up with some tickets for the next time the Giants are in town:

Twitter can be a really cool place if you use it the right way.

Good on you, Pillar.