24 Jul 19
SAN FRANCISCO — If Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs is Madison Bumgarner’s last start as a Giant at Oracle Park, it would surprise manager Bruce Bochy.
Bumgarner’s name has been mentioned throughout the season as one of the top starting pitchers expected to be available ahead of this year’s trade deadline, but a recent hot streak has forced the Giants’ front office to reconsider the possibility of dealing their ace.
A month ago, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone in the Giants organization if Bumgarner was traded to a contender willing to part with top prospects.
But after a 15-3 start to the month of July, Bochy said he hasn’t given any consideration to the idea Bumgarner’s days in a Giants uniform could be coming to an end.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” Bochy said. “Just like he’s saying the same thing. We’re doing a lot of good things right now and that’s all the team is thinking about. That’s all Bum is thinking about. So really, it doesn’t cross my mind. I don’t really have anything to say about it except as always, I look forward to watching him pitch.”
At his introductory press conference in November, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was asked whether he would be open to the idea of trading Bumgarner. Given the Giants’ losing records in 2017 and 2018, Zaidi acknowledged that nothing would be off the table, leading to speculation that he would be willing to trade away one of the most accomplished players in the organization’s history.
Zaidi may still be amenable to the idea, but Bochy believes the Giants’ top baseball executive is committed to contending in 2019.
“I can tell you this, he’s all about winning,” Bochy said. “There’s nobody more excited after these games than him. You go in the clubhouse and he’s going to do all he can to make this a better organization. Right now, he’s all in on doing all he can to win. He’s shown he’s already improved this roster.”
After an underwhelming start to the season, Bumgarner has regained dominant form and posted a 1.55 ERA in his last five outings. The lefty has struck out 34 hitters over his last 29 innings and following his most recent game, Bumgarner was adamant that he believed in the Giants’ ability to compete for a postseason berth.
“I’m trying to win games for the Giants and we’re trying to get into the postseason,” Bumgarner said. “We’re making a push. We’re coming.”
Zaidi met with reporters prior to the Giants’ 12-inning win on Sunday against the Mets and said he will continue to pick up his phone when other general managers and executives call. However, he insisted that the team’s record since June 1 is indicative of the Giants’ true potential and stressed the importance of giving the 2019 roster a chance to continue surging up the standings.
“It’s our job to see what’s out there in the market, evaluate those scenarios and try to balance the present and the future like every team is doing,” Zaidi said.
Bochy remains impressed with Bumgarner’s ability to block out outside noise and focus on the task at hand, acknowledging in recent weeks that the 10th-year veteran has set a tone inside the Giants’ clubhouse with his desire to continue the team’s best stretch of baseball since the first half of 2016.
“He’s looking to do all he can to help us win and that’s all he’s thinking about,” Bochy said. “That’s all you can. Every year, you go through this. It’s never going to change. When you get to this point, there’s going to be rumors. Especially where we were a month ago.”
Zaidi’s decision on Bumgarner’s future will likely come down to the final hours leading up to the trade deadline. The Giants have climbed above .500 and now sit 2.0 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot, but the National League playoff race includes a large group of other teams with realistic postseason hopes.
In his final season as the Giants’ manager, Bochy believes his club has done more than enough over the last two months to convince the front office it can find a way to make the playoffs.
Over the next eight days, he’ll find out if Zaidi and the rest of the Giants’ front office agrees.
“Sometimes it takes time, but you look at what’s happening here this past month,” Bochy said. “Some things that have been done, it’s made it a better team here.”