Giants

Will Farhan Zaidi trade Madison Bumgarner? 'Everything has to be on the table'

Will Farhan Zaidi trade Madison Bumgarner? 'Everything has to be on the table'

SAN FRANCISCO — If the American League Wild Card Game had gone differently in 2014, Farhan Zaidi could have been across the way from the Giants in that year’s World Series.

Instead, Zaidi was in an airport on Oct. 29, 2014, waiting for a flight that was part of the interview process to become general manager of the Dodgers.

He watched as Madison Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to clinch a title, and on Wednesday, his first official day as president of baseball operations for the Giants, he remembered that effort as “superhuman.”

“I remember at the time thinking that I’m working with the A’s and going to the Dodgers, two rivals, and I can’t help it as a baseball fan but to have appreciation for what this guy has done,” Zaidi said. “He has been a seminal pillar of this franchise for a long time. That carries a lot of weight.”

But will Bumgarner still be a pillar on Opening Day?

That’s the biggest question of this offseason for the Giants, and Zaidi will be the man making the final decision. He talked Wednesday of building the entire 25-man roster, and Bumgarner could bring in two to three legitimate prospects to help the Giants do that. The left-hander has one year left on his contract, and rival executives predicted this week that Zaidi would not shy away from the public-relations hit that would come with trading the franchise’s ace.

[RELATED: Giants' reported interest in Bryce Harper is overblown, source says]

On Wednesday, he indicated that was true.

“Where we are,” Zaidi said, “Everything has to be on the table in terms of how we move this team and roster forward.”

The Giants made their easiest decision of the offseason while waiting to interview Zaidi, picking up Bumgarner’s $12 million option for 2019. He is 11 months from becoming a free agent, and there have been no contract extension discussions. Zaidi was given a five-year deal, and if he were to make the move, he would be here long enough to outlast the initial hit. If he can win, after two wildly disappointing seasons for the Giants, all eventually will be forgiven.

On the surface, it seems a given that Zaidi will aggressively explore a deal. But he’s not totally unfamiliar with this kind of decision, and Zaidi’s former team, the Dodgers, recently reached an agreement to keep Clayton Kershaw around. The Dodgers ace was in a different situation, with an opt-out clause that could make him a free agent. The Dodgers tacked on one year to the two existing years, and Kershaw did not opt out, choosing to stay on a three-year, $93 million contract.

The situations are different in ways, but just as the Dodgers want Kershaw to retire in blue, the Giants have hoped to have Bumgarner around for years to come in orange and black. In an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area following his press conference, Zaidi acknowledged there are off-the-field concerns that come into play anytime you're thinking about parting ways with a player like Bumgarner or Kershaw. 

“You’re running an organization that has ties and a connection to the community and certain players’ value to the organization, and the community goes beyond the numbers they put up on the field,” Zaidi said. “You take a guy like Madison Bumgarner — he’s the definition of that for everything he’s brought to the city over the years, and really him and a couple of other guys, with Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford, really (have been) the heart and soul of a team that achieved so much.

“The next World Series team for the San Francisco Giants is probably going to look a little bit different than the team that won in 2014, so as we start thinking about moves, we’re going to have to at least consider it through that lens.”

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

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USATSI

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

Despite playing 11 years of Major League Baseball, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria has never gone through free agency. He signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and then a 10-year extension with the club in 2012.

But with what he's witnessing this offseason, it's safe to say he isn't looking forward to the day he has to partake in the process.

Longoria took to Instagram to share his displeasure, writing the following: 

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

What Longoria is arguing is a lot of common sense that baseball fans need to understand.

Let's look at the following point: "As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team." 

He's not wrong. 

The money either goes to players, making them millionaires, or owners, making them billionaires. Who are we watching on the field? It's quite simple. 

Sure, it might be fun to play armchair GM, but fans should want the best and most entertaining product on the field. We can understand why teams rebuild, but that doesn't mean we have to get to this point as fans. Every team can afford a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado.

The best game is the most competitive game, and that's what players want. Fans should be nodding their head in agreement. 

What's most interesting from Longoria is the fact that he's calling out the system and calling for players to fight back. The MLB collective bargaining agreement ends at the end of the 2021 season. If anger increases from players, negotiations could get quite awkward. 

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Giants top prospect Joey Bart is known for his bat. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft hit 13 home runs in his first 51 minor league games, which is just three behind Evan Longoria's team lead on the big-league club. 

Don't forget about his defense, though.

Bart, the top catching prospect in baseball, also has been named the Giants' top defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline of MLB.com. He has markedly improved since high school, when scouts wondered if he could stay at catcher, enhancing his agility and receiving and improving the accuracy of his strong arm.

The fact that scouts once questioned Bart's future at the position and now his defense is being praised, as it pertains to the Giants' farm system, says a lot. On the 20/80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline rates Bart's defense as a 55 and his arm as a 60. 

At Georgia Tech, Bart was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. He also called pitches, a task that manager Danny Hall didn't even let two-time Gold Glove winner Matt Wieters do when he was a Yellow Jacket. 

In his final college season, Bart had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 12 of 21 stolen base attempts. After joining the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short-Season Class A), Bart's fielding percentage dropped to .983 after he allowed six passed balls and five errors. He did, however, gun down 15 of the 21 runners trying to swipe a bag on him.

Bart's bat most likely always will be ahead of his glove. The fact that he's seen as such a well-rounded prospect, though, is an added bonus to the player the Giants hope can lead them back to the top in the near future.