With the San Francisco Giants off to an 11-17 start, Madison Bumgarner trade speculation will continue to swirl throughout the spring and into the summer.
If the San Francisco Giants continue at this pace, team president Farhan Zaidi will have no choice but to clean house.
The bullpen is loaded with trade candidates and would seem like the obvious place to start. Closer Will Smith and veteran setup man Tony Watson are both free agents at season’s end and figure to be of interest to a contender.
However, the big question Zaidi faces will be whether to pull the trigger on trading ace Madison Bumgarner before he too reaches free agency next offseason.
The fan base will likely be split, with half being loyal to their team and not wanting to see another homegrown star leave, while the other believes the same but realizes where this team is headed looks forward to a rebuild.
Depending on who is made available, Bumgarner could wind up being the No. 1 target for contending teams looking to bolster their starting rotation in July.
The fact that he’s a rental raises questions on what exactly the Giants can expect in return, and how he performs from here on out will go a long way toward determining the answer.
The 29-year-old has not exactly looked ace-like through his first six starts.
He’s allowed four or more runs in three of his starts, including nine total over his last two outings. All told, he’s gone 1-4 with a 4.30 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 37.2 innings.
Interestingly, after scoffing at the idea of the Giants using an opener in any of his starts back in February, Bumgarner has been hit hard in the first innings of games with six of the 18 earned runs he’s allowed coming in the first frame.
Getting six innings out of a starting pitcher these days is not bad, especially when you have an effective bullpen like the Giants do this year.
However, if the front office is going to maximize his trade value, Bumgarner will need to start pitching deeper into games and looking more like the ace of old in the months to come.
While mid-summer trade is still more likely than any early deal, it’s never too early to start speculating on which teams might be interested in acquiring the Giants ace. The following five teams could all be just one starter away from a deep run in October: