SAN FRANCISCO -- As the trade deadline approached and the Giants started to get a little frisky on the field, there was some talk around the game that Madison Bumgarner would be better off getting traded regardless of what the team's record was, eliminating the chance that he would be saddled with a qualifying offer.
Asked about that possibility, Bumgarner gave the kind of look you would expect to be reserved for Joe West. He was never concerned about a diminished market or sitting out half a season like Dallas Keuchel. Bumgarner has always believed the right options will be there in free agency, and now he'll get to test them out.
Bumgarner officially declined the $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Giants on Thursday, joining eight of the 10 big leaguers who had a decision to make. The Twins' Jake Odorizzi and White Sox Jose Abreu decided to take the money upfront and try again in free agency next year.
Bumgarner's agents have already spoken to interested teams, and they know what's out there. The left-hander does not plan to pull a Keuchel, and there's already reported interest from the likes of the Yankees, Padres and Phillies. The Braves, who signed Will Smith on Thursday, are also expected to make a run at Bumgarner, who is from nearby North Carolina.
Then there are the Giants, who would recoup two top 100 draft picks if Bumgarner joins Will Smith in leaving the organization. Management has kept quiet about the offseason intentions, but there's a chance that Bumgarner circles back at some point over the next month to see if a deal can be struck. He has shown interest in coming back to San Francisco, but he's also eager to see what's out there in free agency.