The San Francisco Giants should trade Will Smith, but not Madison Bumgarner

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 13: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches a pitch during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on July 13, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 13: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches a pitch during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on July 13, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants are nearing the trade deadline and must soon make a difficult decision. They should ultimately trade closer Will Smith but retain Madison Bumgarner.

The San Francisco Giants are in the midst of one of their most miraculous runs in recent memory. Following Thursday night’s (nearly Friday morning’s) incredible 16th-inning come-from-behind walk-off, the Giants have now won 13 of their last 15 games including their last six.

They now sit just 2.5 games back of the second wild-card spot with a record of 48-49 — just one below .500. It’s hard to even fathom that this was a team who was, for all intents and purposes, one of the worst and most lifeless in the MLB just a few weeks ago.

Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find a fanbase with more optimism than the Giants.

That statement was as weird to write as I’m sure it is to read, but it’s nonetheless true.

There’s really no rhyme or reason as to why or how this streak has happened. And there’s really no reason that it should continue. But at this point — who really cares?

The Giants are competitive, no, they’re more than competitive. They are legitimate playoff contenders and that’s something few thought would be said in the next few seasons let alone this year.

They’ve gotten unlikely production from the likes of Alex Dickerson, Austin Slater, and Donovan Solano. Seemingly washed-up veterans such as Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval are hitting again. Heck, the whole darn lineup is hitting again.

Or maybe “again” isn’t the correct term to use. They’re just plain hitting — hitting like they’ve never done before.

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But you could measure statistics and use analytics to determine if/when a player will regress to the mean. It’s fairly simple to do so nowadays. But what you can’t measure is heart and fighting spirit — two things the Giants have an abundance of right now.

Those immeasurable aspects could keep this Giants team going long after the eventual “regression” sets in.

Is this wishful thinking? Perhaps it is. But it’s hard to sit back and watch this team right now and still decare that they should have a fire sale at the trade deadline. If the Giants go on to sweep the New York Mets, they would be two games over .500 and likely just outside the playoffs.

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Can you really justify selling at the deadline if that’s the case? The simple answer is, yes. Yes, you can — in fact, it’s very easy.

The Giants are an organization starved for prospects as their minor league system currently ranks as one of the worst in baseball. Aside from top prospects Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos, there isn’t really too much to get excited about.

This year’s trade deadline was expected to be the time where the Giants would finally reload a farm system that had been devoid of top prospects for quite some time now. And they were expected to have the assets to get it done.

Longtime ace Madison Bumgarner was entering the last year of his deal and he has long been thought of as one of the top prizes of this trade season. Then there was closer Will Smith who broke out this year putting together a career year as the Giants ninth-inning man.

There are other players who could be shopped, but those two alone could have netted (and still could) some pretty prominent prospects. But after Bumgarner’s outstanding nine-inning, one-run outing on Thursday, no one wants to see that be his last start.

If it is, that’s quite the way to go out and it’s indicative of a player who has given so much to the Giants organization over the years. But what if they don’t have to trade him? And what if they could still snag a prospect or two?

Bumgarner will obviously net them the highest potential return on investment, but Smith will still garner some sizable attention. Trading away Smith — who has struggled a bit early in the second-half — would allow the Giants to reload their farm system a little while remaining competitive.

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San Francisco has the bullpen depth to replace Smith. Sam Dyson, Reyes Moronta, and Tony Watson each hold ERA’s under 3.00 at the moment and could feasibly replace Smith in his ninth-inning role.

One final run for the San Francisco Giants with Bumgarner, Crawford, Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Brandon Belt — among others — just seems like the storybook ending to Bruce Bochy‘s career that he deserves.

The Giants don’t owe it to him to do this. Anyone telling you that is thinking with their heart, not with their head. Baseball is a business, and the Giants would certainly not be wrong if they decided to just sell everyone at the deadline, Bumgarner included.

But there’s just something about this team. Maybe they don’t make it far in the playoffs, and maybe they don’t even make it there at all. But their recent success and infectious energy and positivity are impossible to ignore.

Trading Smith and retaining Bumgarner would allow the team to keep their core together, hopefully remain competitive for the time being, and improve upon their lackluster farm system. Perhaps they could even acquire another small piece for the major-league roster in the Smith trade.

Either way, it’s a win-win.

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With the way that this team is playing right now, we can’t stomach seeing the front office tear them apart — even if it what’s ultimately best for business.

We’re all in for one final run with most of the original core! How about you?