Trading team icons used to be something that wasn’t done. But now the players who remain with their original teams is very unusual. A few huge stars like the Giants' Buster Posey and a couple stray beloved complementary players (i.e Brett Gardner) are the exception.
In Bumgarner’s case, despite three World Series championships, it seems less likely than ever. The issue is that he has so outperformed his first long-term contract that he hasn’t been so open to signing a second one (in other cases, i.e teammate Evan Longoria, the opposite was true; he signed a second one to make up for the first, and it turns out he did to a large degree).
While Bumgarner has resisted publicly complaining, he has changed agents multiple times since, an indication that it’s on his mind at the very least.
A trade of Bumgarner would just be part of a bigger trend. Based on what we’ve seen lately, the key word in Wins Above Replacement is the last one. The one that Bill James touched upon. Replacement. Franchise players are being phased out in cities where they built their fame. MadBum trade rumors. Paul Goldschmidt trade rumors. Adam Jones is a free agent and apparently no longer wanted back in Baltimore, after he rejected trades this season because he loved playing for the team and the city.
Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen traded. Chris Sale traded. David Wright retires. Manny Machado traded. Bryce Harper nearly traded. Sure, these are all guys nearing free agency, so those trades are understandable, but they're still jarring to fans.
Players are bought, sold, and traded like stocks by teams, without emotional attachment. It's another reason attendance is slipping. No, the sport isn’t dying, but it is not improving for the fan. Owners are doing great, though.
Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.