San Francisco Giants: Trading Madison Bumgarner isn’t necessary

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /

It’s time for the San Francisco Giants to move in a different direction, and they don’t have to trade starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner to do it.

The San Francisco Giants are in a precarious position. Coming off of two straight losing seasons, changes need to be made for the sake of both the long-term and short-term outlooks of the organization.

It is arguable that the Giants should have looked to begin a rebuild, or at least a retooling, to become younger heading into 2018. Instead, they chose to add players like Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, among others.

While the attempt to compete in 2018 may have set the Giants back a year, it is hard to blame them for trying to squeeze more out of an expensive roster that, at the time, still boasted the talents of Buster Posey, Brandon BeltMadison Bumgarner, Hunter Pence, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, etc.

As we look back on that core today, it is not pretty. Posey had his season cut short due to August hip surgery. Pence struggled to stay on the field and when he did, was vastly unproductive. Cueto underwent Tommy John surgery in August, and Samardzija battled shoulder issues all season while producing well below average results across 10 starts.

More from Golden Gate Sports

The question is, what now? Do the Giants bank on better health and rebounds from players in 2019, or do they finally retool and/or tear it down?

In regards to “tearing it down,” another question surfaces: do the Giants need to tear it all the way down and trade Madison Bumgarner? The answer to that is not necessarily.

First and foremost, the Giants have deep pockets and, thanks to a large market, the cash flow should stay consistent. This means they have the ability to add through free agency year in and year out. And while looking at their roster, it may seem that if they did want to net a decent crop of young players, Madison Bumgarner is one of the only ways to accomplish that.

Look a little closer, however, and you will see that the Giants have other pieces they could dangle on the trade market — namely their relievers. Bullpens have arguably never been valued higher than they are in today’s game, and almost any team has at least some sort of need for relief help.

Getting right into it, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, Will Smith, and even Mark Melancon, are the primary pieces the Giants should look to move.

Let us start off with Mark Melancon and his albatross of a contract. While teams are surely not going to be lining up for him, he still may possess some value. Through 41 games (39 innings) in 2018, Melancon posted a respectable 3.23 ERA and 3.39 FIP. However, it all depends on how much of his remaining contract the Giants would be willing to eat.

Mark Melancon has two years remaining at $14 million per year along with a yearly payout of $5 million for a signing bonus left on his contract. So to get a deal done, the Giants would have to eat a significant portion of that money. But getting off the hook of any of that cash and turning Melancon into even just one adequate prospect would be better than paying the full remaining sum and getting nothing in return. A Melancon trade would also be symbolic in a sense, showing that the Giants are committed to moving in a different direction.

Moving onto the rest of that group, theoretical trades are much easier to imagine. Dyson, Smith, and Watson all had solid seasons in 2018 and are not making tons of money in 2019 (Dyson at $5 million, Smith at $4.1 million projected and Watson at $3.5 million with a club option for 2020 at $2.5 million containing a $500K buyout). All three similarly have at least some closing experience. While that does not mean other teams will view them as closers, it may make them a bit more appealing.

To get an idea of what the Giants could get in return, let us look at some recent deals involving relievers (in no particular order):

  1. The Kansas City Royals traded Kelvin Herrera to the Washington Nationals in the middle of last season, and got back in return Washington’s No. 10 and No. 11 prospects, along with another minor-leaguer. It must be noted that Herrera was purely a rental.
  2. The Chicago White Sox dealt Joakim Soria to the Milwaukee Brewers for RHP Wilber Perez and more notably Kodi Medeiros. Medeiros was Milwaukee’s No. 12 pick in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
  3. Even more recently, the Seattle Mariners shipped Alex Colome, who has two years left of club control, to the White Sox for catcher Omar Narvaez. Narvaez has been a solid big league catcher since his debut in 2016 and has four years left of club control.

It is unclear whether or not the Giants can do better or worse than these deals, as the market has yet to fully take shape this offseason, but it does give a hint to what quality relievers can get back in return.

An added benefit for the Giants in trading from their bullpen is that they would not be trading a “legend” and fan favorite such as Bumgarner.

However, there is one San Francisco mainstay the Giants should look to deal. And that player is Belt.

Trading Belt would be a signal that the Giants are serious about retooling the roster. And while it may be difficult to envision Belt, a Giant since 2011, playing in a different uniform, a trade would go a long way in replenishing the farm system.

Belt is also set to make $17.2 million per year through 2021, which means by trading him, the Giants would be creating quite a bit more payroll space for the years to come. Additionally, it is not to say he would fill Belt’s shoes, but Chris Shaw at least gives the club an internal option to fill first base if a trade does go down.

Next. Latest Giants rumors from 2019 Winter Meetings. dark

Now, it is not to say the Giants should or should not deal Bumgarner. The main point is there are clearly other options for the organization to explore in an effort to retool and/or rebuild.