The recent winning run of the San Francisco Giants could throw off some of the trade deadline plans for MLB contenders.
San Francisco entered Friday night 2.5 games back in the National League wild-card race after six consecutive victories.
The Giants' potential playoff push forces a conundrum to pop up as the end of July approaches. San Francisco can either try to go all in for a postseason berth with Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith on the roster or collect assets in trades for the pair of coveted players.
Toronto is in a less difficult situation, as it sits fourth in the American League East and 19.5 games back of any playoff position heading into the weekend.
Given the Blue Jays' place in the standings, the Marcus Stroman sweepstakes is beginning to heat up, with plenty of teams in attendance for his Friday start.
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According to SNY's Andy Martino, the Giants are genuinely undecided about trading Bumgarner, as well as Smith.
Martino added the pitchers are not available in a trade at the moment.
MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported something similar Friday. One interested executive told him that there is a sense the Giants have pulled back in any trade negotiations.
Bumgarner has played a direct role in bringing the Giants back into the playoff conversation after giving up five earned runs in his last four starts.
The 29-year-old southpaw twirled a gem on the mound Thursday in San Francisco's 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.
Bumgarner struck out six batters and gave up five hits and a single earned run over nine innings in his longest start of the season.
In addition to Bumgarner, Smith has pitched well during July by giving up four earned runs in seven innings, with three of those coming in one outing against Colorado on July 16.
The Giants are likely to continue trending upward with the Mets in town all weekend, and they could make up more ground in the wild-card race at home against the Chicago Cubs from Monday to Wednesday.
The key date for San Francisco's decision could be July 29 since it is its final off day before the trade deadline and it comes after a three-game series in San Diego.
Of course, the Giants can make a decision about the availability of their trade targets at any time between now and July 31, but it seems reasonable that the off date before a road trip to Philadelphia would be a cutoff for the call to be made.
Among the teams that could be interested in Bumgarner is Philadelphia, who has spoken to San Francisco about the left-handed hurler, per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.
Prior to the All-Star break, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee and Minnesota were interested in Bumgarner and that the Twins were off the eight-team list the pitcher made of potential landing spots.
If San Francisco decides it wants to sell, there should be a robust market for Bumgarner based on the reports that have surfaced throughout July.
But for now, the majority of the focus internally and externally is on the results the Giants put up. If they continue to win, it might be too difficult for them to make a trade.
Stroman put on a show in front of a handful of prospective suitors in Detroit Friday night by throwing seven scoreless innings.
According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the Phillies have shown interest in the 28-year-old, and he also reported the New York Yankees brought a significant scouting presence to watch Stroman at Comerica Park.
Morosi expanded on the teams watching Stroman by reporting the Boston Red Sox, who also might interested in Detroit's Shane Greene, had their top advisor in attendance, and Atlanta also scouted Stroman at the game packed with representatives from other franchises.
Friday's outing was the latest in the line of impressive showings out of the Toronto righthander, who held Boston scoreless over six innings on June 23.
The Yankees and Red Sox obviously have the most familiarity with Stroman of the teams potentially interested in him since they all reside in the American League East.
Playing in the same division should not have an impact on Toronto's trade decisions since it was willing to deal J.A. Happ to the Yankees before the 2018 trade deadline.
The National League East could also be a worthy landing spot for Stroman, as Atlanta is looking to bolster its pitching staff to reinforce its lead atop the division, while Philadelphia needs improvements to its rotation to chase the Braves and remain competitive in the NL wild-card hunt.
The Phillies have a rotation ERA of 4.78 and have conceded 5.03 runs per contest. Atlanta is in less desperate shape, and it already signed Dallas Keuchel as a free agent.
Toronto is certainly familiar with the Yankees farm system from previous deals, and Atlanta boasts one of the better collections of young talent in the majors, so they could be ideal trade partners for the Blue Jays in order for them to maximize their return.
According to Morosi, Atlanta and Philadelphia are interested in Texas pitcher Mike Minor, and they both had personnel watching the southpaw Friday night against Houston.
The Rangers are in a similar situation as the Giants since they are trying to make a push in the American League wild-card race before July 31.
Texas went into the weekend 4.5 games back of the Oakland Athletics for the second of the two wild-card spots.
In Friday's start against the Astros, Minor struck out 10 batters while giving up four earned runs over seven innings.
Minor has been able to go deep into games all season, as he went at least seven innings in eight other appearances.
The left-handed hurler has also been consistent when it comes to giving up earned runs since he has conceded over four of them once in 2019.
Any contender would value that level of consistency down the stretch run of the regular season and in the postseason, especially a team like Philadelphia that has a larger need for rotation help than other franchises.
If the Rangers are unable to beat the Astros in the final two contests of the three-game weekend set, it may make their decision easier when it comes to dealing Minor.
But just like the Giants and Bumgarner, the Rangers might be inclined to keep Minor on the roster if they believe they can make a run at one of the wild-card positions.
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Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference