MLB rumors: Braves focused on 'pursuing' Madison Bumgarner trade

MLB rumors: Braves focused on 'pursuing' Madison Bumgarner trade

It's still unclear what the Giants plan to do as the MLB trade deadline approaches.

A month ago, they were clear-cut sellers, with big pieces such as Madison Bumgarner and All-Star closer Will Smith expected to be shipped off for a hefty return. But after a 15-3 stretch put them back in the thick of the NL wild-card discussion, the Giants no longer might be sellers. No, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi hasn't stopped fielding calls, but it feels like the Giants have taken a step back when it comes to trade discussions.

With the July 31 deadline a little over a week away, how the Giants fare in their next two series against the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres can go a long way to determining whether they buy or sell.

While teams might not be certain of the Giants' deadline plans, one team remains in hot pursuit of a potential trade for Bumgarner.

The Atlanta Braves, who currently sit atop the NL East at 60-41, would like to acquire a top of the rotation arm as October approaches, and they remain focused on Bumgarner, The Athletic's Jim Bowden reported Monday. 

The Braves have a deep farm system and could overwhelm the Giants in a Bumgarner trade, but Atlanta -- like the rest of baseball -- isn't sure that San Francisco will be a seller at the deadline.

[RELATED: MLB trade deadline: Predicting landing spot for top players]

Bumgarner also has an eight-team no-trade list, and the Braves are one to which he has the power to void a trade. The ace left-hander could use the no-trade list as a leverage play to steer where he wants to be traded to, or he could shut talks down and elect to finish out the season with the Giants, hoping to give manager Bruce Bochy one last October run. 

There are nine days until the trade deadline, and the Hot Stove is just starting to get cooking. Stay tuned.

New Giants manager Gabe Kapler has odd way of eating ice cream

New Giants manager Gabe Kapler has odd way of eating ice cream

New Giants manager Gabe Kapler had a short and unsuccessful first stint as a MLB manager when he lasted two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. 

But it was all the way back in 2007 when Kapler first became a manager at just 31 years old, one year after playing for 72 games for the Boston Red Sox. Kapler took for Boston's Low-A affiliate, the Greenville Drive, that season. 

He certainly wasn't your everyday manager, though. Prior to Kapler becoming the Phillies' manager in 2018, Drive players from that 2007 squad told stories of his style to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Among the oddities for a manager was Kapler grabbing a glove and diving at shortstop during practice, out-lifting his players in the locker room and one of the weirdest ice cream stories you can imagine. 

That's right, ice cream. 

"He was so into health," Former Drive catcher Jon Still said to the Inquirer. "He's addicted to ice cream. So he would sit there and lick ice cream but have a cup and spit it into it. He would lick it just for the taste but didn't want to eat it. I told him, 'Dude, that's like Unabomber type stuff.'

"That's a thing he did."

[RELATED: Zaidi addresses Kapler controversy after Giants hire him]

Kapler brought his own organic eggs and organic peanut butter, among other organic foods, with him on the road during that 2007 season. It has been reported Kapler eliminated junk food from the clubhouse when he was the Dodgers' farm director, and made the etire organization go organic before the 2015 season.

The Drive went 58-81 in Kapler's first stint as a manager, good for seventh place in South Atlantic League. Kapler went on to play three more seasons in the majors from 2008 through 2010.

Gabe Kapler's relationship with Giants' clubhouse must be focal point

Gabe Kapler's relationship with Giants' clubhouse must be focal point

Gabe Kapler’s tenure in Philadelphia wasn’t met with much in the way of brotherly love.

Kapler was fired after just two seasons as Phillies manager, as the team failed to reach the playoffs.

With Kapler now officially minted as the Giants' newest manager, NBC Sports Philadelphia Phillies insider Jim Salisbury spoke about Kapler’s tenure and how it ended for the 44-year-old.

“I’m sure Gabe learned a lot, because a lot of things went wrong,” Salisbury said Tuesday night on "SportsNet Central." "Failure can be a great teacher.”

An overall record just below .500 (161-163) doesn’t necessarily evoke abject failure, but Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made sure to cover all his bases in learning about Kapler’s time in eastern Pennsylvania. 

One thing the Giants' front office liked, in particular, was the reviews from players who had operated under Kapler.

“Players like Gabe a lot,” Salisbury said. “ And I think the reason they do is he lets them do whatever they want.” 

Although Kapler’s leadership style resonated with his roster in Philadelphia, he had a much stronger connection to Phillies management than he did with his own dugout. 

“I always thought in Philadelphia, he bonded a lot better with the front office than he did with the clubhouse,” Salisbury said. “I didn’t think they always played for him, but I think he always responded to what the front office wanted.”

[RELATED: Zaidi addresses Kapler controversy after Giants hire him]

Joining an old co-worker in Zaidi likely will make that transition a lot smoother for Kapler, but it remains to be seen how players in the Giants’ clubhouse respond to a very different style of manager from three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy.

More on Kapler from NBC Sports Philadelphia

Leadership issues led to Kapler's firing
Kapler's reactions on final day of Phillies season
Bryce Harper's thoughts on Kapler's future
Kapler and Velasquez have miscommunication