Everybody’s Trying to Be His Baby?

Don't look now, but there's already talk about what might or might not be come or close to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. It may not overshadow the talk around such things as the Dodgers losing their second-least-affordable-loss man (shortstop Corey Seager) for the season to Tommy John surgery, which means a Dodger season that spent April reeling is now officially on the brink. But it's there.

Yardbarker's Justin Mears thinks five players today could find new homes by then: J.T. Realmuto (Marlins, catcher, and a subject of trade rumors even before April ended), Mike Moustakas (Royals, third base/DH), Alex Colome (Rays, closer), Brad Brach (setup man, Orioles), and Starlin Castro (Marlins, middle infield).

And others think the most intriguing non-waiver trade possibility could be Madison Bumgarner himself. Buster Olney of ESPN began tapping that drum in April's final week, when he wrote the Giants — awaiting Bumgarner's return from the pinkie injury he suffered from a spring training line drive — needed to think seriously about pushing the plunger and commencing a serious rebuild.

Olney ponders the following scenarios:

* The Giants could think about extending Bumgarner, even as he hits the age where normal players begin to decline, and commence their rebuild around him, young Chris Stratton (who's looking, little by little, like becoming a rotation mainstay), and catching anchor Buster Posey, while remaking the farm.

* They could flip him for prospects at the non-waiver deadline, then — as the Yankees did with Aroldis Chapman — re-sign him as a free agent, even with the risk of that costing them a bit more than extending him might.

* They could flip him for prospects, say, "thanks for everything you did to get us those three World Series rings," and turn the page entirely.

Plus, any team dealing for Bumgarner if he's made available would find themselves taking on almost shamefully low money risk: his deal has this season and next to go and it's so team friendly — he's earning $12 million this year with a team option for likewise in 2019 — it's insane.

That's why Bumgarner is their best trade chip now. Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, and Johnny Cueto are owed too much money to be tradable, particularly with a saturated first base market leaving Belt unmovable even if he was owed less.

The risks, as Olney knows, are these:

* If the Giants extend Bumgarner, there's always the chance that it works out the way it did for the Phillies, who waited far too long as their 2008 championship team began aging to remake the team. Their last winning season was 2011. Only now have the remade Phillies begun to show something positive — at 16-12, they're in third place behind the surprising Mets and Braves in a suddenly-tough-again National League East.

* There's always the risk that the prospects for whom they flip Bumgarner prove to be journeymen or worse, but that's a risk every team takes when they're going into rebuild mode.

* They could plan to make a run at bringing him back in free agency after flipping him for prospects, but there's always the risk someone else might show him more money and lure him that way. Bumgarner has never impressed (yet) as someone for whom the dollars matter as much as other things, but even a man who doesn't chase the dollar would be hard pressed to avoid being seduced by it.

What of the other five whom Mears examines?

J.T. Realmuto — He, too, is already a trade rumor subject. What a surprise. As Mears notes, all-star catchers are as common as finding titanium while digging up the back yard. And he's been a live one this season thus far.

And if the Marlins are right in thinking there might be a bidding war for him among the Mets, the Nationals, and the Phillies, all of whom need experienced catching help and fast, they come out the winners and their rebuild (stop snarling, Marlins fan, we know it's always a chance of translating as "rebuild to another fire sale" even under new ownership) continues apace.

Mike Moustakas — The Royals re-signed him for one year. Nobody really knew why, since they were really not likely to have one more postseason run in them just yet, even as nobody could really figure out why a power-hitting third baseman coming off a breakout year would attract such a parched off-season market.

American League contenders would love his bat in the DH slot if they don't have a third base need; National League contenders might want him at third base ... particularly the Mets or the Braves (whose young incumbent Johan Camargo may not be the power hitter they want at the position just yet).

Alex Colome — The good news is that, at non-waiver deadline approach, contenders always want bullpen bulls with any kind of closing experience. The better news: Colome is also on a team-friendly contract, through 2020. The best news: After showing a little shakiness in the first half of April, Colome's been picking it up considerably, especially, as Mears notes, in his past four gigs.

The Rays may look a little better than advertised right now, but they're not really a contender now. If Colome keeps up his current level, he could bring them some choice prospects and maybe even a young major leaguer to line up for a rebuild finish and maybe contention in a year or two.

Brad Brach — Mears thinks he's likely to be the second-most desirable relief pitcher at non-waiver deadline time in the game behind Colome. Brach's one of the best setup men in the game and has been since 2015. (Lifetime batting average against him: .217.) And when Zach Britton went to the disabled list last year he got some solid closing experience.

He may be 32, but he looks durable enough. And, a possible bargain pickup, especially, as Mears says, if the Orioles can't gin up a bidding war for him.

Starlin Castro — He became a Marlin in the deal that made Giancarlo Stanton a Yankee. He's reliable. He's dependable. He's under a team friendly-enough deal. And he's as versatile as the day is long around the infield. Mears thinks that contenders suddenly dealing with injuries might come into play but, for now, the Brewers might have the likeliest desire for him.

All of which might end up playing bridesmaid to any wedding to come between Bumgarner and, well, just about anyone who thinks they're heading for a shot at the World Series. If the Giants decide he's available, MadBum's going to be singing the Carl Perkins chestnut/Beatles favorite "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" (though George Harrison sounded scared shitless at the very prospect of it when he sang it) at maximum volume.

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