We looked previously at the comments of the Giants’ top executives following the team’s postseason exit, but it seems worth exploring one major long-term question on its own. As Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports, the team’s leadership also talked about the possibility of a second extension for workhorse ace Madison Bumgarner.
There have been at least preliminary discussions between the team, Bumgarner, and his new representatives at The Legacy Group, GM Bobby Evans said. As things stand, though, it doesn’t appear that any significant progress has been made — or that there are any firm plans to chat further this winter.
Bumgarner, 27, just turned in his fourth consecutive season with over 200 innings of sub-3.00 ERA pitching, cementing his status as one of the game’s most productive starters. And his value is only enhanced by his remarkable postseason record; over 102 1/3 total frames, he has dominated to the tune of a 2.11 ERA.
Owing to the brilliant original extension reached by the team, San Francisco has plenty of time to think things over and try to exercise some leverage. Bumgarner will earn just $11.5MM next year and can be retained for two more seasons via successive $12MM options, making him one of the game’s most valuable assets.
That contractual control runs through Bumgarner’s age-29 season, so there’s plenty of relatively young seasons still in play. Obviously, risk and reward is inherent in any deal involving pitching, for both player and team. While it’s easy to imagine something coming together — we have seen second long-term extensions for players such as Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Salvador Perez, and (of perhaps greater relevance) Justin Verlander — there’ll surely be plenty of jockeying involved.
There’s little question that Bumgarner is a screaming value who would command a much greater price in another deal, especially with the price of pitching moving northward of late. Acknowledging that while factoring in the team’s locked-in years and dollars could prove tricky, especially with the fiery hurler’s impeccable health history and dogged consistency driving his potential future free agent value up.
There does seem to be a fairly special relationship between the ace and an organization that has a penchant for retaining its most treasured players. CEO Larry Baer acknowledged as much. “[Bumgarner has] been a tremendous asset for us,” he said. “He’s done historic things. But, look, obviously, we want to make Madison a Giant for a long, long time to come – well-beyond his current contract.”
Still, Baer declined to make a firm commitment as to how hard the team would press to get something done. “I think that remains to be seen,” he said of how the team will prioritize extension talks with Bumgarner. And Evans seemingly suggested that the ball is in the court of the pitcher and his advisers at present. “When they’re interested in talking, we want to make sure we’re available,” he said. “But we don’t have a timeline. We want Madison to be here for a long time. At the right time, we’ll address this when his camp is ready to talk.”
Baggarly explores whether the team’s situation with the equally excellent Johnny Cueto could tie into the timing. As he notes, whether Cueto pitches well enough again next year to opt out of the final four years of his deal will have a major impact on the state of the team’s future balance sheet. San Francisco already has more cash promised to veterans than most organizations in the game, with nearly $100MM committed through 2020.
Those broader considerations will surely weigh into the equation, though it’s tough to imagine the large-market, perennial contenders passing up an opportunity to achieve yet more value from their world-class lefty. Whether and when such a chance will arise figures to be a storyline that will grow in prominence as the three remaining years on Bumgarner’s deal tick down.