Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner trade should be MLB teams' priority now, history shows

Madison Bumgarner trade should be MLB teams' priority now, history shows

With smarter, more analytical front offices, baseball is changing before our eyes. Even in the sport's evolution, however, history can teach us a lot. 

When it comes to this year's MLB trade deadline, teams should be taking a page out of baseball's history book and pounce at the chance to acquire Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, writes The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

Sure, Bumgarner is one of the most accomplished postseason pitchers of all time. But in this case, Rosenthal is going back even further than his heroics in 2014, and it all starts with a different left-handed pitcher. 

On July 7, 2008, the Brewers acquired CC Sabathia from the Indians for Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, Matt LaPorta and a player to be named later. The PTBNL turned out to be three-time All-Star Michael Brantley. More importantly, Sabathia went on one of the greatest stretches by a pitcher we've seen, propelling the Brewers into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years.

Sabathia was unhittable once he joined Milwaukee, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA over 17 starts -- seven of which were complete games. What made the trade different than others, however, was its timing. By adding Sabathia in early July, the Brewers had the big lefty for five extra starts compared to him joining the team after the July 31 trade deadline. 

Times have changed, and fewer teams pull off a trade like that weeks before the deadline. Front offices understand that if teams like the Mets and Diamondbacks continue to struggle, pitchers like Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Zack Greinke, and Robbie Ray could become available.

Sabathia joined the Brewers two weeks before his 28th birthday. Bumgarner turns 30 on August 1. Sabathia had a 3.83 ERA when the Indians traded him. Bumgarner currently owns a 3.87 ERA over 15 starts. But as the season progresses, Bumgarner only has performed better. 

[RELATED: Giants might have two best pieces before trade deadline]

Bumgarner's 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. Bumgarner's average fastball velocity of 92.2 mph also is his highest since 2015, according to Brooks Baseball.

For teams that believe they can make a playoff push -- even for the Wild Card Game -- their front offices should be calling the Giants, and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi should be answering before the market gets flooded.

Giants might have two best pieces available before MLB trade deadline

Giants might have two best pieces available before MLB trade deadline

SAN FRANCISCO -- We tend to look at everything from a local standpoint around here, which means this upcoming trade deadline is mostly about two Giants: Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith.

Both pitchers have been asked about trade rumors in recent weeks, and every start Bumgarner makes comes with the tag "could be facing Team X for the final time as a Giant" or "might be pitching at Stadium X for the final time in orange and black."

MLB Trade Rumors is among the outlets that takes a national view, and on Monday they ranked the top 50 players available before the July 31 deadline. Their list, however, had a very, very local flavor. And it probably had Farhan Zaidi smiling. 

The website listed Smith as the No. 1 available piece before the deadline, with Bumgarner ranking right behind him. Left-hander Tony Watson (No. 6), right-hander Sam Dyson (No. 11) and third baseman Pablo Sandoval (No. 15) also cracked the top 15. 

Now, this is just one list of potential options for buyers, and things change quickly this time of year. A team on the bubble -- the Padres or Diamondbacks, for instance -- could go on a losing streak and decide to clean house, adding players like Kirby Yates and Zack Greinke to the pitching market.

But for now, the Giants -- who fully intend to kickstart a rebuild with a flurry of trades -- appear to be holding a lot of the best cards. 

While Bumgarner is the bigger name, Smith actually could bring back the better prospect before the deadline. As a cheap left-handed closer with a perfect 18-for-18 record in the ninth this year, he would fit in any contender's bullpen. Smith could close or slide into the seventh or eighth, depending on a buyer's needs. 

[RELATED: Will Smith dominates despite dealing with trade rumors]

Bumgarner has been connected to the Yankees and Twins recently. He's throwing as well as he has in years, and will have another chance to show his stuff on Thursday against the NL-leading Dodgers.

Watson and Dyson could bolster a contending team's bullpen, and Sandoval -- who is owed just the MLB minimum by the Giants -- would be a nice addition for a team needing power off the bench. He has been the league's most dangerous pinch-hitter this season. 

Smith, Bumgarner and Sandoval are trade chips in part because they are free agents at the end of the season, but if the Giants really want to get creative they could dig deeper.

Reyes Moronta and Trevor Gott are cost-controlled right-handers with big arms and solid numbers this season, and both could be intriguing to winning teams looking for more than just an expensive rental.

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.