Chicago Cubs

Madison Bumgarner shakes off rough Giants spring training debut

Madison Bumgarner shakes off rough Giants spring training debut

Scottsdale Stadium might not be Madison Bumgarner's favorite ballpark.

Pitching in the stadium for his final start of spring training last year, the Giants' ace fractured a bone in his pitching hand. After recovering from surgery, Bumgarner did not make his regular-season debut until June 5, 2018, or 61 games into San Francisco's season.

Bumgarner was not injured Sunday, when he made his first start of the spring ... in the same stadium in which he was hurt 11 months ago. Instead, he gave up six runs (five earned) and five hits, failing to record an out in the second inning before he left the game.

Still, Bumgarner was feeling rather optimistic about his unofficial 2019 debut.

"I'd say that's the best I felt, especially in the first spring outing, in quite some time," Bumgarner told reporters in Scottsdale, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "I was pretty excited about it. It would have been nice to have better results, but I felt pretty good."

Bumgarner made quick work of the Chicago Cubs in the first inning, retiring all three batters on just eight pitches, according to reporters in Scottsdale.

Despite the lopsided line in the second inning, Giants manager Bruce Bochy mostly liked what he saw from Bumgarner.

“I’ll start with the stuff, I thought it was good and I was pleased with the stuff,” Bochy said. “He got ahead, got a lot of two-strike counts and didn’t execute the put-away pitches today.”

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The left-hander should have plenty of opportunities to execute those pitches this spring. Since 2011, he has made fewer than five appearances in spring training only once (2014). But, Bumgarner is optimistic about his Opening Day readiness for another reason.

"Because I don't have a broke hand or a separated shoulder," he told reporters Sunday.

As you can see, optimism abounds in Giants camp.

Giants players' no-trade clauses complicate any rumored Hot Stove move


Giants players' no-trade clauses complicate any rumored Hot Stove move

This is your annual offseason reminder that the Giants have several players with full or limited no-trade clauses.

We mention this because a recent rumor circulating in Chicago has the Giants linked to Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward in a possible trade involving relievers Will Smith and Mark Melancon.

One issue: Melancon has a full no-trade clause as part of his contract that pays him $14 million in each of the next two seasons.

No-trade clauses are tricky because they make any transaction dependent on a player’s decision. And while common sense might suggest Melancon would gladly waive his NTC to leave a rebuild in San Francisco for a contender in Chicago, there’s no guarantee. Players stay with teams for many reasons — comfort with the city and teammates, family concerns, etc. — and you never know what will drive their decision. Sometimes, it’s just a whim.

Heyward also comes with his own issues. First, he’s owed $106 million in salary over the next five seasons — that’s a lot of money for a Giants team already saddled with heavy financial commitments in the coming years. Second, Heyward is entering his age-30 season with diminishing skills. He’s hit just 26 total homers in three seasons with the Cubs, and while the Giants certainly need outfielders, they also need bats with pop, especially for $100 million-plus.

Oh, and Heyward has a partial no-trade clause, meaning he can identify a number of teams where he can’t be traded. Are the Giants on that list? Considering their sliding prospects of being contenders, they could be. Few veterans would be willing to leave a team with which they won a World Series, no matter how nice the weather at the destination.

We won’t even go into the possibility that the Giants would be sacrificing their most valuable trade piece in Smith, who’s scheduled to receive $4 million or so in arbitration, to absorb a bad contract. It certainly wouldn’t be how Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ new president of baseball operations, would want his first major move in charge of the team to go.

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Before you swap another player in Melancon’s place in this Heyward deal, let’s review the full list of other Giants players with some form of a no-trade clause. Catcher Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford have full protection, and pitcher Jeff Samardzija and first baseman Brandon Belt have partial clauses. That doesn’t leave many moveable Giants assets, particularly in a complicated deal like acquiring Heyward. Cash to cover the outfielder’s hefty contract certainly would have to be involved.

In the end, players negotiate no-trade clauses for one simple reason: They don’t want to be traded against their will. That makes the Giants’ rebuilding project a little more difficult and shouldn’t be forgotten as the inevitable Hot Stove rumors hit over the next two months.

MLB rumors: Kendall Graveman, A's 2018 Opening Day starter, signs with Cubs


MLB rumors: Kendall Graveman, A's 2018 Opening Day starter, signs with Cubs

Kendall Graveman has had quite the year.

The 28-year-old served as the A's Opening Day starter, underwent Tommy John surgery in July and was non-tendered by Oakland after the season.

Now, Graveman is headed to the Cubs.

According to The Chicago Tribune and Fancred, Graveman will receive $575,000 in 2019, with an escalator that could take his salary to $2 million. The contract includes a $3 million club option for 2020.

Graveman is expected to miss most, if not all, of the 2019 season as he recovers from elbow surgery.

The A's acquired Graveman from the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2014 season as part of the package for third baseman Josh Donaldson, and he was a solid contributor in Oakland's rotation from 2015 through 2017. During that three-year span, he made 71 starts and posted a 4.11 ERA.

But in seven starts in 2018, Graveman compiled an ugly 7.60 ERA. The A's sent him to Triple-A Nashville, where he made four starts in May, but the results weren't much better.