The MLB offseason is in full swing, and teams have already made drastic moves. The Seattle Mariners are tearing everything down after trading James Paxton, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and Jean Segura. New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has not shied away from making interesting moves, including a pursuit of Miami catcher JT Realmuto. And of course, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain the big fish on the market.
That being said, there is one team that needs to figure things out: my San Francisco Giants. They've finished in fourth place in each of the last two seasons, well below .500. Their payroll is bloated, the injury bug constantly bites them, and their farm system is depleted after their run from 2010-2014. What have they done instead? They keep making adjustments as if they are one piece away. They keep retooling the roster instead of rebuilding.
But things are different now. The Giants pulled a major coup and snatched up Farhan Zaidi, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Los Angeles went to back-to-back World Series under Zaidi's leadership after embracing the analytics that, if I can be honest, make no sense whatsoever. I do have to worry that there will be unintended consequences in regards to Zaidi's relationship with current Giants manager Bruce Bochy, but I pray that I will be wrong.
That being said, the Giants need to clear payroll, find some outfield help, and rebuild the third-worst minor league system in the majors. It's a pretty tall order.
With an aging core of players that probably would not bring back too much trade value, there is one name that would be perfect for a trade.
As much as I hate to say it, that guy is ace lefthander Madison Bumgarner.
Hear me out: Bumgarner is still on the right side of 30. Outside of a few freak injuries, including a shoulder injury after a dirtbike accident and a broken pinky, he's stayed healthy. He's due "just" $12 million this season. Come playoff time, there aren't too many pitchers better than MadBum. Quite simply, trading him is too logical to not do it.
Do I want to see him go? Absolutely not. But I want the Giants to be in a position where they can win in the future. If you take a look at what teams like the Chicago Cubs or Houston Astros have done, or even the Kansas City Royals a few years ago, you'll see that it works to build up your minor leagues.
The question now is: who would pull the trigger? Let's look at a couple of possibilities.
The Atlanta Braves have one of the best farm systems in the majors, and this is after the graduation of phenom Ronald Acuna, Jr. Right-hander Mike Soroka figures to play into the rotational mix for the Braves, but even behind him are Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, and Touki Touissant. By contrast, of the top five prospects that San Francisco has, only one is a pitcher, and he profiles as a No. 3 starter at best. Bumgarner would also be a fan favorite having grown up in North Carolina (easily Braves country right there). The thing is that the Braves are more than just an ace away, and would they want to mortgage the future by trading for him now? I don't think so.
The Brewers used their relievers to push the Dodgers to the limits, so it's clear what having an ace like Bumgarner would have meant for them. The Brewers, like the Braves, have other needs as well. Unlike Atlanta, Milwaukee does not have the same pieces after trading for NL MVP Christian Yelich this past offseason. In fact, their farm system is ranked LOWER than San Francisco's. How would they make this work?
New York Yankees
The Yankees have dipped into their farm system already, shipping their top prospect Justus Sheffield to the Mariners as part of the Paxton deal. For a team that had a middle of the road system, it would take a lot to pry Bumgarner away. Jonathan Loisiga and Albert Abreu would have to be the starting points for any discussion to happen. And with the Yankees bringing JA Happ back on a three-year deal, a trade here looks less and less plausible.
A team on the rise, the Phillies have plenty of payroll flexibility and a top 10 farm system. Obviously, they won't part ways with Sixto Sanchez or Adonis Medina, but a couple of Tier-2 prospects might be enough to get the job done. On top of that, the Phillies will get a lefty to slide in right between Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, and still have the money to offer someone like Harper a megadeal. If I'm Matt Klentak, I'm going for it.
Where will Bumgarner go? Who knows. It's been a great run, and he was a key to that. But the time has come for us to say goodbye.