Giants following Madison Bumgarner’s lead as trade rumors swirl

SF Giants ace Madison Bumgarner isn't concerned with trade rumors ahead of MLB's July 31 deadline

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 Wisconsin. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner does not care about the speculation.

He doesn’t care for the rumors, the concern over his long-term future or the daily guesswork over where he might be pitching in August or September.

What the Giants’ ace does care about is pitching in October. If Bumgarner has his druthers, he’ll be doing that in San Francisco.

“I’m trying to win games for the Giants,” Bumgarner said on Thursday. “We’re trying to get to the postseason and we’re making a push. We’re coming.”

Bumgarner’s future came into focus again after a masterful outing in the Giants’ 3-2, 16-inning win over the Mets on Thursday. The left-hander tossed nine innings of one-run ball and tried to convince manager Bruce Bochy to allow him to pitch the 10th.

He lost the argument, but as he’s done throughout a 10-year major league career, he won more respect from the person calling the shots with another brilliant performance.

“That’s what makes him special,” Bochy said. “He’s not thinking about the possibility of maybe getting traded or what’s going to happen either now or at the end of the year, he’s just here to compete and help us win.”

Three weeks ago, the Giants appeared destined to trade Bumgarner ahead of MLB’s July 31 deadline. The club was 12 games under .500, trailing nine teams in the Wild Card race and eager to add to a farm system that features an increasing number of prospects who have the potential to become impact players.

Bumgarner is keenly aware of the noise that’s made about his future on a daily basis, but he and his teammates have drowned it out with the franchise’s best stretch of baseball in more than three years.

With 13 victories in their last 15 games, the Giants have emerged as a legitimate threat in the NL Wild Card race and moved within a game of .500. The Giants trail just four teams for the second Wild Card spot and now believe they’re the team no one wants to play if they ride this wave into the postseason.

When asked if inching toward .500 was an encouraging sign, Bumgarner didn’t take the bait. He instead set a tone for the clubhouse and re-established expectations for a team that’s suddenly among the most entertaining in baseball.

“No,” Bumgarner said. “We plan on going a lot further than that.”

Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants player whose name has been mentioned in trade rumors. Half the roster including key contributors like closer Will Smith and infielder Pablo Sandoval have been discussed as potential fits for contending clubs, but every player has followed Bumgarner’s lead.

When asked about their futures, they insist all they can control is the present.

With an inspired stretch of play, that present looks much more hopeful than it once did.

“They’re seeing how Madison is handling everything and keeping his focus and I think the other guys are following him or having the same attitude that he has,” Bochy said.

The Giants’ hot streak has coincided with Bumgarner’s best run of starts this year as the lefty has posted a 1.55 ERA in his last five outings.

With 34 strikeouts in his last 29 innings, there’s no question Bumgarner’s trade value is near its peak. There’s also no doubting what his presence means to a Giants team that’s rallied around a belief it has the necessary pieces to make a postseason push.

“He loves it here,” Bochy said. “He loves his teammates. He’s excited about how we’re playing. So it does mean a lot. He’s not looking toward anything else but to come out and help this team and get hopefully back to where we want to go.”

A decision to trade or keep Bumgarner is hardly black and white, and it’s up to president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi to navigate the gray area. There are short-term concerns and long-term goals the Giants’ front office is weighing on a daily basis, but Bumgarner and the rest of the Giants are doing everything in their power to eliminate the possibility of a trade.

The Giants know there’s one way to seize control of their destiny and over the last several weeks, Bumgarner has set the tone in a way that’s temporarily allowing them to do so.

“I’m here to win games for this team,” Bumgarner said. “And that’s what I’m doing.”

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