Giants

MLB rumors: Giants to be sellers, not buyers, as trade deadline nears

MLB rumors: Giants to be sellers, not buyers, as trade deadline nears

The Giants find themselves facing a question nobody ever expected: Should they be buyers or sellers at the July 31 MLB trade deadline? 

For months, the answer was obvious. The Giants found themselves at the bottom of the standings as one of the worst teams in baseball. Having two of the best trade assets in the game in pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, San Francisco was built to sell and keep building for the future. 

Oh how quickly the narrative changes. 

As the Giants enter Wednesday only three games back for the second NL wild-card spot, fans are clamoring for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi to be a buyer and hold onto the two left-handers. That won't be the case, however, ESPN's Jeff Passan reports. 

"San Francisco's recent success isn't throwing a wrench in the team's trade-Bumgarner-and-all-the-relievers plan," Passan wrote Wednesday morning. "Even with their best run of the year, the Giants are three games below .500 and have the third-worst run differential in the NL. They are selling. One more time, a bit slower. They. Are. Selling." 

And they should. Despite being on a four-game win streak and going 8-2 in their last 10 games, the math just doesn't add up, as Passan points out. Plus, it makes no sense for an aging roster that likely isn't a title contender to hold onto Bumgarner and Smith, both of whom will be free agents this upcoming offseason. 

The Giants have been dangling Bumgarner to interested teams for a while now. According to Passan, they tried to get a deal done last month but nothing substantive came from the trade talks. As the deadline approaches, teams reportedly believe he won't be moved until the final days of the month. 

Bumgarner and Smith both will be on the move. Who gets the greater return for the Giants is the biggest question now.

[RELATED: How Zaidi's reacting to Giants' hot streak ahead of deadline]

Everyone knows who Bumgarner is. While he isn't the same dominant pitcher he once was, his pedigree in the playoffs speaks for itself. A team on the verge of being World Series favorites knows adding someone like Bumgarner with his October experience could make all the difference. 

But October is a month driven by bullpens and Smith has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season. Plenty of relief help will be on the way at the deadline, and the Giants' closer could be the cream of the crop. 

Giants to hire former Red Sox exec Brian Bannister as director of pitching

Giants to hire former Red Sox exec Brian Bannister as director of pitching

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have quietly spent most of the past month putting a staff together, one they expect to announce in the coming days. One new addition won't be working in a traditional dugout role, but still is expected to make a huge impact on the next generation of Giants pitchers. 

Brian Bannister, a former big leaguer who spent the previous five seasons with the Red Sox, will join the Giants as director of pitching, NBC Sports Bay Area has learned.

While it's unclear what Bannister's exact duties will be, his background is in development and the fact that he's joining the Giants but not as their pitching coach would seem to indicate he'll mostly be working with younger pitchers. 

Bannister has been a rising star in baseball circles since joining the Red Sox in 2015. He became their assistant pitching coach a year later and a few months after that added the title of vice president of pitching development. According to NBC Sports Boston, Bannister had an unusual contract that allowed the Red Sox to deny interview requests from other organizations that wanted to make Bannister a pitching coach, something they did repeatedly. In that story, Bannister explained his role and what he liked about it. 

“I think I’m kind of in that sweet spot right now where I know what our needs are, and I have the opportunity to work with staff at all levels of the organization to try to produce pitchers at a faster rate to keep that major league product winning on the field,” Bannister said. “I’ll be scouting one day, I’ll be in player development the next day. I’ll be in the front office working in analytics on Day 3. And the diversity of the role and the exposure to every aspect of the organization is what’s so appealing.

"Because you really start to see on an interdepartmental basis, how each person positively impacts the Boston Red Sox. And then figuring out ways to fill in the gaps. How to get the players from amateur scouting, through player development as efficiently as possible, and prepare them with exactly what they need for the major league staff. That part’s fascinating. I definitely enjoy the exposure to everything and trying to add value to everything. And that’s probably where my role is unique.”

The Giants have been looking to put together a unique staff, one that can focus on development of younger players in Kapler's first year. In that respect, Bannister fits perfectly, but he also has the playing experience that carries so much weight with players who prefer traditional methods. 

Bannister finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2007 after putting up a 3.87 ERA in 27 starts for the Royals. That was the highlight of his professional career, as he finished with a 5.08 ERA in five big league seasons.

[RELATED: Why Hjelle stood out to Vogelsong]

A USC grad, Bannister is coming home in multiple ways. He lives in the Bay Area and was born in Scottsdale, where he later starred at Chaparral High, which is about a 20-minute drive from Scottsdale Stadium. When Fox Sports first reported that Bannister would be headed to San Francisco, he thanked his previous organization. 

The Giants are expected to announce some staffing decisions over the coming week. The only known member of Kapler's staff thus far is previous third base coach Ron Wotus.

MLB rumors: Free agent Madison Bumgarner prefers to stay with Giants

MLB rumors: Free agent Madison Bumgarner prefers to stay with Giants

Madison Bumgarner stepped to the plate against longtime Dodgers rival and friend Clayton Kershaw at Oracle Park on Sept. 29, 2019. The pitcher who rakes pinch-hit for shortstop Brandon Crawford in the seventh inning of Game 162, and lined out on a 3-2 fastball to third baseman Jedd Gyorko.

The day belonged to manager Bruce Bochy in his last game as the team's skipper. It very well might have been goodbye for a longtime ace and franchise hero, too. 

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported Wednesday that Bumgarner, who is a free agent for the first time this offseason, prefers to continue his career with the Giants but the team has "shown no inclination to keep him." 

After free-agent pitcher Zack Wheeler reportedly agreed to a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies on Wednesday, it became clear Bumgarner very well could sign a nine-figure contract this offseason. That doesn't seem to fit into the rebuilding Giants' plans. 

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said late last month that San Francisco has "financial flexibility" but that doesn't mean he and general manager Scott Harris are going to throw huge contracts at veteran players. In fact, Zaidi seems focused on the opposite of that this offseason. 

"We need to be careful given our recent history about creating too many long-term commitments that can get us back in the jam that we very recently put ourselves in," Zaidi told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on the "TK Show."

Nightengale also reported Wednesday that the Giants were interested in free-agent pitcher Cole Hamels before he signed with the Braves. Though San Francisco wants to get younger, Hamels' one-year, $18 million contract is much more in line with their plan. 

Bumgarner likely is looking for a four- or five-year contract on the open market. With veterans Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija still on the team's books, and young arms next in line, the Giants don't seem too inclined to sign a pitcher to a hefty, long-term contract. 

[RELATED: Eight non-tendered vets who could be great fit for Giants]

MadBum debuted with the Giants in September 2009, and has spent his entire career in San Francisco. He is a four-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger and three-time World Series champion. His real impact, however, came in the playoffs. 

The lefty is regarded by many as the greatest postseason pitcher of all time. He is 8-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 16 playoff appearances, and is a perfect 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA in five World Series games.

Relish the memories, Giants fans. Bumgarner's days of walking to the mound in San Francisco with the Marshall Tucker Band's "Fire on the Mountain" playing in the background, might be over.