Every Madison Bumgarner start can be his last as a Giant.
The July 31 MLB trade deadline is over a month away, but Bumgarner could be gone before we know it. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is sure to be taking and making calls regarding his team's ace. Those calls should start with the New York Yankees, ESPN MLB analyst Tim Kurkjian says.
"The Yankees have to be at the top of that list," Kurkjian said Tuesday on KNBR. "Their lineup is ridiculously productive when it comes to hitting the ball out of the ballpark. But I still think they're one really good starting pitcher short of going into October as the team to beat. ... The question is, how much are they willing to give up?"
One Yankee the Giants should covet could be more available than ever. Clint Frazier, 24, was demoted to Triple-A on Sunday to make room for veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion, despite Frazier proving he clearly belongs in a major league lineup. Through 53 games this year, Frazier is batting .283 with 11 home runs and a .513 slugging percentage.
Frazier is the exact kind of player the Giants should be pursuing. He struggles on defense and has received ample criticism this year for his play in the outfield, but he's a young, right-handed power bat that can actually hit the ball over the wall at Oracle Park. Frazier would also be under team control through 2024.
It won't be that easy to acquire him, however.
"I had an executive tell me the other day, 'There's no way the Yankees would trade Frazier even straight up for Bumgarner.' I think the Giants would need Frazier and at least another top prospect before they're gonna move Bumgarner, even in a rental situation," Kurkjian said.
The Yankees still value Frazier even though there might not be room for him on a star-studded roster. On the other hand, the Giants want to make sure they get the best return possible for a team legend despite the fact he'll be a free agent at the end of the season.
"How many teams are going to be willing to give up a tremendous amount for a two-month rental who's not the best he's ever been?" Kurkjian said.
Bumgarner is 3-6 with a 3.87 ERA this season. That doesn't tell the whole story, though. His ERA has lowered every month so far. In March/April he posted a 4.30 ERA in six starts; in May he had a 3.72 ERA in six more starts and he has a 3.32 ERA through three starts in June.
The big left-hander has seen his fastball velocity rise as well. Bumgarner's average fastball velocity of 92.2 mph also is his highest since 2015, according to Brooks Baseball.
Oh, and there's that whole playoffs thing, too.
The Yankees need Bumgarner to win another ring. The Giants need Frazier for the ball to go over the wall.
Let's make a deal.