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Giants, Brewers talking Madison Bumgarner deal

It’s far from certain that the Giants will trade Madison Bumgarner before Spring Training.

But if they do, Milwaukee is his most likely destination.

It’s far from certain that the Giants will trade Madison Bumgarner before Spring Training.

But if they do, Milwaukee is his most likely destination.

The Brewers and Giants have had substantive communication about a Bumgarner trade this winter, sources say, and the Brewers are continuing their internal deliberations about how much they’re willing to give up in order to acquire the three-time World Series hero.

A trade of Bumgarner represents the best opportunity for the Giants to obtain high-end young players as the franchise begins what it hopes will be a rapid rebuild under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

Bumgarner, 29, is entering his final season before free agency and is set to earn $12 million in 2019 — an eminently manageable sum for an ace who ranks seventh in the Majors in adjusted ERA among all pitchers to throw more than 1,500 innings in the current decade.

Zaidi may find that a broader number of teams would have interest in Bumgarner immediately before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July. However, that strategy will be effective only if Bumgarner remains healthy throughout the first half — something he failed to do in each of the last two years.

While the Brewers have ample starting-pitching depth, they lack an All-Star starter with a long October track record. Jhoulys Chacin is the lone returning starter from the Brewers’ modified rotation in last year’s National League Championship Series. (Chacin performed exceptionally well in the 2018 postseason, with a 1.46 ERA over 12 1/3 innings.)

If the Brewers don’t add Bumgarner or another ace from the outside, they will rely on Corbin Burnes, 24, and Brandon Woodruff, 25, to assume greater roles in their 2019 rotation.

The Giants must address their below-average outfield production, and the Brewers possess good Minor League depth in that area even after trading Keon Broxton to the Mets. Of the Brewers’ top six prospects according to MLB Pipeline, three are outfielders: No. 2 Corey Ray, No. 5 Tristen Lutz and No. 6 Joe Gray.

The Phillies also have interest in Bumgarner, but they’re focused on big-dollar possibilities via free agency, including Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. The Brewers’ financial resources don’t compare with the Phillies, and so Milwaukee general manager David Stearns is prioritizing the trade market.

Stearns has proven that he’s willing to be patient when making big moves. He waited until Jan. 25 last year to sign Lorenzo Cain and trade for eventual NL MVP Award winner Christian Yelich, mere hours apart from one another.

Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for and MLB Network.

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