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MLB trade rumors: Will the Giants deal Madison Bumgarner this summer?

A blockbuster deal involving the ace has been suggested, but will San Francisco pull the trigger if it keeps struggling?

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Can it be possible that the Giants will trade their best pitcher in ace Madison Bumgarner?

Buster Olney of ESPN says that San Francisco ”should consider” dealing the lefty who has helped delivered the franchise three World Series championships if it continues to struggle this season.

Olney said that he and a rival evaluator talked recently about the Giants and how they brought aboard players who “could be on the downslope of their respective careers.”

“They have to get restarted and start turning the page, and they don’t have a lot of ways to do that,” the evaluator told Olney.

Olney agreed and believed that trading Bumgarner would help them avoid the same situation that plagued the Phillies recently when they held onto players like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and others way after they won their World Series crown in 2008.

Olney says that players like Andrew McCutchen, Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria would not generate much return for the Giants if they tried to sell them. He added that there is an “assumption” that the club will never trade Buster Posey because of his stature in the franchise and that shortstop Brandon Crawford could get some prospects, but his position is not one of a big need for a contending team.

But, if they fell out of contention this year and decided to go the route of dealing Bumgarner, Bumgarner would be the most sought-after name on the market and would generate a ton of prospects in return for a franchise that desperately needs to replenish its farm system.

“Maybe two top-tier guys and two second-tier guys,” the evaluator said to Olney. “I mean, if any team traded for Bumgarner, it would be [a move] to win the World Series.”

Bumgarner led the Giants to three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, respectively, with the last one resulting in him earning MVP honors. Bumgarner is also a four-time All-Star and a four-time NL Cy Young top-10 finisher.

In the regular season, Bumgarner has gone 104-76 with a 3.01 ERA, 1,482 Ks and a 28.2 WAR in 234 appearances, including 231 starts. In the postseason, though, Bumgarner is virtually lights out, as he has an 8-3 mark with a 2.11 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP and 87 Ks to 20 walks in 102 1⁄3 innings pitched.

However, Bumgarner is currently recovering from a broken left hand he suffered at the end of spring training. He is set to return in June. Though his hand injury was the second major injury for Bumgarner in less than a year (he missed about three months of the season in 2017 due to a Grade 2 sprain and bruised ribs, which he suffered in a dirt-bike accident), Bumgarner would be a perfect rental for a contender because he is in the final year of his seven-year, $46.06 million contract, which he is only making $12 million for 2018. He also has a $12 million club option for 2019, but he is expected to command a ton of money if he decides to test the free agent market in the offseason.

And for the Giants, Olney believes they could follow the same route the Yankees took when they dealt Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs: acquire a bunch of prospects, then go out and sign him in the offseason. It could be worth it for the organization for the next few years instead of getting nothing for him if they try to sign him to an extension, which they have mutual interest in doing, or let him walk after the season.