9:09am: The Twins and Giants haven’t held “high-level talks in recent weeks” regarding Bumgarner, Jeff Passan of ESPN hears. On the other hand, the Twins are interested in Giants closer Will Smith, per Passan. The 29-year-old Smith may be an even more enticing rental than Bumgarner. Not only is Smith on an appealing $4.23MM salary, but the southpaw has been one of the most dominant relievers in the game this season. Smith has registered a 1.95 ERA/2.01 FIP with 13.64 K/9 and 1.95 BB/9 across 32 1/3 innings, and has converted all 21 of his save opportunities.
8:15am: While Minnesota owns the American League’s best record at 51-27, it’s not resting on its laurels with the July 31 trade deadline approaching. The club has “strong interest” in Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. The Twins are not on Bumgarner’s limited no-trade list, as Nightengale notes, so he wouldn’t be able to stand in the way of a deal.
The Twins’ starting staff has statistically been one of the most productive in the majors’ this year, having put together a 3.74 ERA/3.95 FIP with 8.27 K/9 against 2.36 BB/9. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi have offered excellent production, while Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez have given the team a pair of fine complements. Perez has struggled of late, though, and while Michael Pineda hasn’t posted great aggregate production this year in his return from Tommy John surgery, he has picked it up since the start of May.
For the Twins, acquiring Bumgarner would likely mean sending one of Perez or Pineda into their bullpen. And landing Bumgarner would also keep him away from AL rivals, including the Yankees, who may pursue the three-time world champion in an effort to bolster their rotation. While the 29-year-old Bumgarner is no longer performing like the front-line starter he was during his halcyon days, he remains a quality option who will draw no shortage of interest over the next month-plus.
In his most recent start Tuesday, Bumgarner fired six innings of 11-strikeout ball in a win over the Rockies, who mustered three hits, three walks and two earned runs off him. Bumgarner has now pitched to a 4.21 ERA/4.16 FIP, which isn’t spectacular, though he has recorded 9.12 strikeouts per nine against 2.1 walks. He has also averaged six innings per start, having totaled 102 2/3 frames in 17 appearances, and maintained his normal velocity. It’s also worth noting Bumgarner has a reputation as one of the game’s elite playoff pitchers, though it’s unclear how much that will matter to modern front offices when it comes time to pony up for him via trade.
The Giants, for their part, don’t necessarily have to deal Bumgarner. While Bumgarner’s only under contract through this season, during which he’s earning $12MM, he’s a franchise icon they may try to extend. At the same time, though, the Giants aren’t contenders this year and seem unlikely to put together a playoff-caliber team by next season. Considering that and the Giants’ weak farm system, it’s likely they’ll cash Bumgarner in for prospects – perhaps at least one top 100 farmhand – in the coming weeks.