MLB rumors: Giants-Twins Madison Bumgarner trade chatter ‘premature’

MLB rumors: Giants-Twins Madison Bumgarner trade chatter ‘premature’

It's possible that Madison Bumgarner made his last start for the Giants on Saturday at Oracle Park.

Charley Walters, a columnist for The Pioneer Press in Minnesota, reported that the Twins are "moving closer to a trade with the Giants for left-handed starter Madison Bumgarner."

Don't get too worked up just yet.

Darren Wolfson, a sports reporter for KSTP-TV in Minnesota, isn't ready to say a deal between the Giants and the Twins is close.

Bumgarner is the Giants' biggest trade chip, and he's expected to fetch them a haul of prospects before the July 31 trade deadline. A deal this far away from that deadline would be a surprise, though, as the team might want to wait longer for more suitors and richer offers.

The Twins aren’t one of the eight teams on Bumgarner's no-trade list, so that would make it easier for the Giants to facilitate a trade with Minnesota, which has surprised everyone this season and owned the best record in baseball through Saturday.

In 14 starts this season, 29-year-old Bumgarner has a 3.83 ERA and struck out 84 batters in 87 innings.

[RELATED: Will Smith remains focused as trade rumors swirl]

With the Giants in last place in the NL West, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi could start trading off his valuable pieces to restock the farm system. Along with Bumgarner, you can expect veteran relievers Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson to be traded by the deadline.

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

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

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. 

How Alex Dickerson became Giants' best hitter at Oracle Park this season

How Alex Dickerson became Giants' best hitter at Oracle Park this season

The Giants would be nowhere this season without Alex Dickerson. That's a fact, as is saying most Giants fans had never heard of Dickerson before this season. 

Dickerson, 29, was acquired by the Giants in a trade with the Padres on June 10. Less than two weeks later, he made his team debut when he hit a grand slam and drove in six runs against the Diamondbacks on June 21.

Suddenly, the Giants are the hottest team in baseball and sit just three games back of the second NL wild card spot. Since Dickerson debuted with the orange and black, the Giants have gone 15-7. Before his arrival, they were 31-42. 

"The vibe is kind of a calm confidence," Dickerson said Wednesday morning on KNBR regarding the Giants' clubhouse right now.

While the Giants can't be stopped, neither can Dickerson. Since joining the Giants, he's been one of the best hitters in baseball. 

What has been most impressive by Dickerson's dominance at the plate are his stats at Oracle Park. Through 10 games in San Francisco, the left-handed hitting outfielder has a .379 batting average with two home runs and a 1.195 OPS.

For Dickerson, it all starts with the right mindset. 

"You always have to step in the box with that confidence that you're gonna get the job done. You gotta take the park out of it," Dickerson said. "Honestly, I never hit too well there until that last home stand and it took my hitting coach Alonzo Powell telling me, 'Hey, that bay isn't out of reach for you. You gotta challenge it.'

"I realized that I was trying to do something different than what I wanted to do as far as driving the baseball." 

Dickerson is a powerful hitter at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds. He quite literally begin telling himself he could hit the ball to McCovey Cove, and the results followed. 

"You gotta play to your strengths and for me, being able to drive a ball to that pull-side gap, that really opens up a lot of stuff for me," Dickerson said. 

All four of Dickerson's home runs this year have been hit to right-center field or right field. Through 31 games between the Giants and Padres, 27 percent of his batted balls have been hit to right-center field and 26 percent have gone to right field, according to Baseball Savant

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

The Giants are hitting nearly 20 points higher on the road this season and only have 34 home runs at Oracle Park compared to 67 on the road this season. Though the offense as a whole has struggled in San Francisco, Dickerson seems to have the horrors of Oracle Park figured out. 

It's simple: Aim for the water.