Madison Bumgarner Rumors

Stark’s Latest: Giants, Hamels, Price, Orioles, Gallardo, Alvarez

The latest deadline rumblings from Jayson Stark of

  • The Giants are still searching for starting pitching, but they’re only looking at top-of-the-rotation arms to pair with Madison Bumgarner in a playoff rotation, Stark hears. San Francisco has checked in on both David Price and Cole Hamels, but they’re not considered a favorite to land Hamels from the Phillies, and there’s still no definitive sense that Price has been made available by the Tigers. Yesterday, Stark reported that the Dodgers and Rangers were emerging as the favorites in the Hamels market.
  • The Orioles are speaking with other clubs to get a feel for what kind of return they could get if they market Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Hunter and Bud Norris, Stark hears. However, rival clubs feel the O’s will only sell if they slide to six or more games back in the Wild Card race — and they’re 3.5 games out with four to play before the deadline at this time. If they make up a bit of ground, they could add a bat, but Stark says it’d likely be a bench piece as opposed to a bigger name. Baltimore GM Dan Duquette said last week he would be a buyer regardless of the team’s play, though others have suggested that the Orioles could still end up selling if they struggle enough.
  • Adding help that can be controlled beyond 2015 is the priority for the Rangers, which is why they’re targeting Hamels, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner while also listening to offers on Yovani Gallardo. However, according to Stark, those moves aren’t linked, and Texas could acquire a rotation piece for 2016 but also hang onto Gallardo. Personally, I think Gallardo’s pitched well enough to warrant a qualifying offer. A draft pick and improved odds of making a late run (especially if they do add another rotation arm) present enough value that the Rangers shouldn’t feel obligated to simply take the best offer for Gallardo if the proposed packages aren’t all that impressive.
  • The Pirates are now likely to hang onto Pedro Alvarez after shopping him without success for several weeks. They’ve asked the Brewers, White Sox and Rays about Adam Lind, Adam LaRoche and James Loney, respectively, but with Alvarez in the fold, they’re not likely to make a move at first. Stark adds that multiple sources downplayed the recent reports connecting Pittsburgh to the Red SoxMike Napoli.

NL West Notes: Bumgarner, Dodgers, Navarro

The Dodgers weren’t the only NL West team looking at Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, as’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Giants and Padres also had interest.  The Rangers and Red Sox, two of the more aggressive teams on the international signing front in recent years, were also interested in Fernandez, who agreed to an $8MM bonus with Los Angeles yesterday.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Madison Bumgarner has no plans to approach the Giants about re-negotiating his contract and said he has no regrets over signing his five-year extension, the World Series MVP tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.  In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a deal that, at the time, paid him the highest average annual value of any contract given to a player between 1-2 years of service time.  The five-year, $35MM deal includes a $12MM vesting option for 2018 and a $12MM team option for 2019.  While those options could increase to $16MM based on Cy Young finishes, Bumgarner’s contract has obviously been a major bargain for the Giants.
  • The Brewers were one of a few teams interested in trading for Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, though nobody was interested in paying Guerrero the $14MM he’s owed through 2017, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports.  Some teams were staying away from a trade and instead hoping L.A. would just release the Cuban prospect in the wake of his tough 2014 campaign.  A good Spring Training, however, has earned Guerrero a spot on the Opening Day roster and kept him in the Dodgers’ future plans.
  • The Dodgers won’t be considering extensions for Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe until at least partway through the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes.  All three veteran infielders are entering their walk years, but L.A. can afford to wait given the presence of Guerrero and Corey Seager, not to mention the possible signing of Hector Olivera.  For his part, Uribe says he wants to stay with the Dodgers beyond 2015.
  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including’s Steve Gilbert) and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) that Dioner Navarro‘s $5MM salary is too much to fit into his team’s payroll.  The Snakes have been linked to the Blue Jays catcher for much of the offseason and they’re reportedly still scouting him, though Stewart said there isn’t any substance to those rumors.

Quick Hits: Astros, Middlebrooks, Peavy, Rodriguez

Matt Harvey posted a game score of 97 while taking a perfect game into the seventh, striking out 12, and walking none over nine innings against the White Sox Tuesday night, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes (on Twitter). Only 40 outings of nine innings or fewer since 1916 have earned a higher game score. Here's a collection of notes from around the majors.

  • The nine Asian-born pitchers who have pitched in the big leagues this year have combined to post numbers similar to a typical Justin Verlander season, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs says. Those nine pitchers have 241 1/3 innings pitched so far in 2013, with a 2.91 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Yu Darvish has been a big part of that, of course, but Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hisashi Iwakuma, Hiroki Kuroda, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara have also pitched well. The past struggles of pitchers like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Irabu have allowed today's Asian-born pitchers to fly under the radar somewhat, Cameron argues, and he wonders whether pitchers from overseas leagues might be undervalued in the market. Specifically, he says, emphasis on fastball velocity and breaking balls may cause teams to undervalue pitchers with great splitters or changeups.
  • Free agency has become "a used car lot cluttered with lemons," with only a few bargains to be found, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated argues, citing the examples of Josh Hamilton (Angels), B.J. Upton (Braves) and Zack Greinke (Dodgers). Thus far, Hamilton and Upton have failed to produce with their new teams, and Greinke is hurt. In the past four seasons, Verducci notes, there have been 24 free-agent contracts worth $35MM or more. Most of those have turned out badly, and some (such as Jason Bay's deal with the Mets) have looked bad almost immediately. That means that "win[ning] the winter" by signing the biggest-name free agents isn't all it's cracked up to be, as the 2012 Marlins can attest. This year's Angels and Dodgers have struggled out of the gate, and so have the Blue Jays (who had a big offseason mostly driven by trades).
  • The Astros' decisions to designate Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez for assignment made their outfield more athletic,'s Brian McTaggart says. Robbie Grossman, Brandon Barnes and Jimmy Paredes started in the outfield for the Astros Tuesday night. "We went out to get more athletic, get more guys who have the ability to mishit the ball and still have a possibility of getting on base because of their athletic ability," says manager Bo Porter.
  • Will Middlebrooks and David Ross left the Red Sox's game against the Twins Tuesday night after they collided. There is no indication yes that Middlebrooks will miss significant time. But after Middlebrooks, the Red Sox have little depth at third base, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco "isn't the answer," MacPherson says, and the choices at Triple-A Pawtucket aren't thrilling. Minor-league veteran Justin Henry, who was acquired in the offseason for Rule 5 pick Jeff Kobernus, may be the best option there. Brock Holt, who arrived from the Pirates with Joel Hanrahan in the offseason, is another possibility. Of course, Middlebrooks himself has struggled this year, hitting just .195/.232/.281.
  • Jake Peavy does not have a no-trade clause in his new contract with the White Sox, and he doesn't need one, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. "I told (GM) Rick Hahn that if he didn’t trade me before spring training was over, that was good enough for me," says Peavy, pointing out that it's unlikely he will be traded if the White Sox are contending.
  • Rosenthal also notes that Madison Bumgarner's contract with the Giants could be one of the most team-friendly in baseball. Bumgarner, 23, would have been eligible for free agency after the 2016 season, but his new deal contains cheap team options that can allow the Giants to carry him through 2019.
  • The Brewers have assigned Francisco Rodriguez to Class A+ Brevard County, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. Rodriguez will make three relief appearances there, then head to Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers must promote Rodriguez to the majors by May 17, or he can become a free agent. Rodriguez posted a 4.38 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 78 appearances with the Brewers in 2012.
  • Diamond Mines' new database provides a fascinating look at old scouting reports, including many in the scouts' own handwriting.

Assessing Early Returns On Recent Giants Extensions

No MLB team finalized more extensions this offseason than the Giants, who locked up five of their top players. General manager Brian Sabean committed more than $200MM in future salaries in the four-month period from the beginning of January to the beginning of April. The extensions promised to solidify the team’s rotation long-term and cap the future earnings of a pair of arbitration eligible All-Stars. 

For the most part, the extensions have worked for the team. Tim Lincecum's disappointing season is the largest blemish on an otherwise encouraging set of contracts for San Francisco. 

Matt Cain - Giants (PW)

Lincecum, whose early-career accomplishments assured him of a substantial raise, signed a two-year, $40.5MM contract extension to cover his final two arbitration years. Though he has pitched better lately, his ERA sits at 5.30 in what has been the most disappointing season of his MLB career. It’d be understandable if the Giants are relieved Lincecum didn’t accept their $100MM extension offer before the season. In that context, $40.5MM isn’t so expensive. Still, if the team had gone year to year with Lincecum, he wouldn’t have been locked in for a $22MM salary in 2013; a non-tender would have been possible.

Three other Giants starters have exceeded expectations since signing multiyear deals. Vogelsong, who signed a two-year, $8.3MM contract in January, is repeating last year's success. He has a 2.85 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 on his way toward a career high in innings pitched. Vogelsong would have been a free agent after the 2012 season if the Giants hadn't locked him up. They'll surely be glad to have him back for just $5MM in 2013 (the extension also includes a 2014 club option).

Like Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner has replicated his 2011 success. The 23-year-old left-hander has inserted himself into the NL Cy Young Award race by posting a 2.83 ERA with five times as many strikeouts as walks in 171 2/3 innings this year. He obtained a record deal for pitchers with one-plus years of MLB service (five-years, $35MM), so it’s not as though Bumgarner obtained anything less than full value back in April. But this deal could hardly be going better for the Giants.

Matt Cain also obtained a record-setting contract this spring. He obtained a five-year, $112.5MM contract that established a record for right-handed pitchers. He's earning Cy Young Award consideration again after pitching a perfect game and posting a 2.83 ERA in 174 2/3 innings. If Cain had reached the free agent market this offseason, he would be the most sought-after pitcher available. The Giants could have re-signed him, of course, but not without spending considerably more than they did in April.

Lastly, Pablo Sandoval's play has justified his new three-year, $17.15MM contract — at least when he's been on the field. Although he spent time on the disabled list with a strained hamstring and a fractured hamate bone, he does have an .821 OPS in 294 plate appearances. This extension had limited upside for the Giants in the first place, since it didn’t buy out any free agent years or include any club options.

For now the Giants are presumably focused on maintaining their division lead over the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. A few months from now, once the most chaotic part of the offseason has ended, Sabean and the rest of the San Francisco front office will encounter a familiar challenge: it'll be time to consider extensions for a new set of players led by All-Star catcher Buster Posey.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

Quick Hits: Glass, Bell, Bumgarner

The 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card continues to be the hottest item in the memorabilia market, as one of the rare cards was sold today for $1.2MM in an online auction.  Here's some news from around the majors as we head into the weekend…

Examining The Madison Bumgarner Extension

It’s not surprising that Madison Bumgarner's part of the Giants’ long-term vision. The 22-year-old is establishing himself as one of the best left-handers in the National League as he begins his second full season. But the specifics of the five-year, $35MM extension he signed yesterday were somewhat surprising. Here’s a breakdown of the deal:

What Distinguishes Bumgarner From His Peers

Bumgarner signed a record deal for pitchers with one-plus years of MLB service time. Most pitchers in Bumgarner’s service class have signed four-year deals in the $10-12MM range, but Bumgarner’s deal corresponds to the five-year, $30MM template for starters with two-plus years of service. 

How’d he pull that off? I am guessing his representatives at SFX argued that he has enough bulk and quality to separate himself from most of his own service class and place him alongside more experienced pitchers.  

Many players in Bumgarner’s own service class don’t compare. He had 150-200 more innings than pitchers such as Cory Luebke, Wade Davis or Brett Anderson had when they signed as one-plus players (for an interesting counter-example, check out James Shieldsstats through 2007). SFX presumably said ‘Bumgarner needs to earn as much as the pitchers in the next service class because he is as accomplished as them.’

Why Bumgarner Could Ask For $30MM+

Pitchers such as Jon Niese, Derek Holland, Clay Buchholz and Trevor Cahill signed for $25-30.5MM as two-plus players. They have only a slight advantage over Bumgarner in career wins, starts and innings despite their one-year advantage in service time. Bumgarner has more innings than Ricky Romero or Yovani Gallardo did at the time of their deals, and at least as many starts. (Innings matter a whole lot when we’re discussing pitchers’ arbitration years.)

There's also quality. Bumgarner’s ERA is substantially below the marks of Niese and Holland and well below the marks of Romero, Gallardo, Cahill and Buchholz and Jon Lester. He also has a better career walk rate than anyone in this group and better career strikeout rate than anyone but Gallardo. Not only has he pitched his share of innings, they’ve been good ones. Cy Young votes and postseason experience help, too.

Still, I wouldn't have expected Bumgarner to sign for more than $30MM. He ultimately obtained more than most pitchers in the service class ahead of him.

Why The Deal Works For The Giants

The Giants likely looked ahead to Bumgarner's arb years and thought 'this guy's going to get expensive in a hurry.' They know better than any team that elite pitchers can earn lots by going year to year through the arbitration process.

Bumgarner had been on track for a first year arbitration salary of $4MM or more. It would only get more expensive from there, so the Giants obtained some potential for savings in arb here. The deal also insures against the possibility that Bumgarner breaks out into an ace.

Arbitration savings are nice, but they’re a risky way to try to save given the guaranteed commitment required. Most importantly, the Giants extended Bumgarner’s time in San Francisco by at least one year, and possibly three. The Giants now control more of his prime years.

Why The Deal Works For Bumgarner

Let’s start with the $35MM guarantee. Not only does Bumgarner obtain a ton of money, he establishes a new record for pitchers in his service class.

It’s also worth noting that this deal won't necessarily represent the only big payday of his career. At the latest, he'll hit free agency following his age-29 season. Left-handed starters C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee have shown teams are willing to pay for elite starters well after they turn 30.

Bay Area Notes: San Jose, Bumgarner, Lincecum

Long-time Athletics minor league roving instructor Ron Plaza passed away last night at age 77, according to a team media release.  Plaza had been with the A's since 1983, and also worked for the Reds and Cardinals organizations during his 61-year career in baseball as a player, manager and coach.  We at MLBTR send our condolences to Plaza's family, friends and colleagues.

Here's the latest from both the A's and the Giants…

  • The Athletics aim to put their new stadium and proposed move to San Jose on the agenda for next month's owners meetings, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  By forcing the other owners to vote on the move, the A's would finally get some resolution on an issue that has dragged on for three years.  Neither A's owner Lew Wolff or GM Billy Beane would comment on the story.
  • One of Slusser's sources (Twitter link) isn't certain if the A's will be successful in getting their case heard at the owners meetings.  It will ultimately be up to Bud Selig, who decides on the meetings' agenda.
  • Madison Bumgarner's extension with the Giants is "a win for everyone involved," writes Dave Cameron for Fangraphs.
  • The Giants now have greater cost certainty with Bumgarner and Matt Cain both locked up to multiyear contracts, which Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter) feels will make the team likelier to sign Tim Lincecum to a long-term deal "if he has a good year."  Lincecum signed a two-year pact with the Giants in January that puts him on pace to hit free agency after the 2013 season.

Giants Extend Madison Bumgarner

The Giants don't have the most intimidating offense in the league, but they've got pitching and it's not going anywhere. The team announced a five-year extension for Madison Bumgarner that will keep the left-hander in San Francisco through 2017. The deal, which starts in 2013, includes options for 2018 (club/vesting) and 2019 (club). 

Madison Bumgarner - Giants (PW)

The extension guarantees Bumgarner $35MM over five years, his agency, SFX, announced (all Twitter links). The contract represents a record for pitchers with one-plus years of MLB service, but the Giants saw enough from the 22-year-old to make a record-setting commitment after just one full season.

“Preserving our core pitching for the long term remains a top priority for the Giants and today’s extension certainly helps further that goal,” GM Brian Sabean said in a press release. “Madison has already proven that he is one of the best left handed pitchers in the game today and we are confident that he will continue to succeed for many years to come.”

The guaranteed portion of the extension covers Bumgarner's final pre-arbitration season, his three seasons of arbitration eligibility, and one free agent year assuming that CAA's projected super two cutoff proves accurate. The club options cover free agent seasons. 

Bumgarner's guarantee would increase to $40MM if he qualifies for super two status following the 2012 season — a possibility that now seems remote.'s Buster Olney tweets the expected salary breakdown. The deal includes a limited no-trade clause, Olney tweets. Bumgarner can block trades to eight teams per year. 

Bumgarner will pitch alongside Matt Cain, who recently signed an extension that locks him up through 2017. Tim Lincecum's under team control through 2013, as the Giants have been unable to work out a long-term deal with the two-time Cy Young Award winner so far.

As MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows, many pitchers have signed five-year extensions covering their arbitration seasons. However, most had more service time than Bumgarner has now. The 2007 first round selection entered the 2012 season with one year and 127 days of MLB service, but that didn't stop him from setting a record for his service class. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes previewed a possible extension for Bumgarner in December, suggesting SFX would do well to obtain $23-4MM in guaranteed money.

Bumgarner helped the Giants win the 2010 World Series, making 18 regular season starts that year plus three more in the playoffs. He followed up his rookie year by posting a 3.21 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 46% ground ball rate in 204 2/3 innings in 2011. Though he doesn't throw particularly hard, Bumgarner combines his low-90s fastball with an effective slider to subdue his opponents.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

NL West Notes: Bumgarner, Fontenot, Dodgers

The Giants locked up Matt Cain yesterday and the $112.5MM contract has generated its share of headlines and discussion since. Here are the latest links from Cain’s division, starting in San Francisco:

  • Madison Bumgarner told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’d have interest in a multiyear deal “if it was worth it” (Twitter link). The left-hander said his agent hasn’t addressed a long-term extension with the Giants’ front office. Tim Dierkes discussed Bumgarner as an extension candidate in December, suggesting a five-year deal in the $23-4MM range would be a big win for the 22-year-old.
  • Infielder Mike Fontenot has cleared release waivers and can officially sign anywhere, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Giants released Fontenot last week.
  • Stan Kasten, one of the key members of the group that won the bidding for the Dodgers, may be looking for another baseball man, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Kasten has talked with Tony La Russa, who is expected to join MLB this season.
  • Now that Joey Votto and Prince Fielder have signed mega-deals, Matt Kemp's $160MM extension looks better than ever for the Dodgers, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times writes. Fewer elite players are reaching free agency, so Frank McCourt's decision to spend on Kemp seems like a good one.

Latest On Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner

It appeared earlier this week that the Giants and Matt Cain had built momentum toward an extension. One person in the know even said there's no chance the 2013 free agent signs for less than $100MM. Here are today's updates on talks between Cain, the Giants and teammate Madison Bumgarner:

  • The Giants agreed to a one-year deal with Bumgarner, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The pre-arbitration eligible starter will earn $575K or so in 2012.
  • There's no hard deadline for talks with Cain, Schulman adds. Cain would like negotiations to be done with by Opening Day.
  • Andrew Baggarly of suggests the Giants could work out extensions for Cain and Bumgarner within the week. The sides have been working late and the Giants like package announcements, Baggarly tweets. MLBTR has previewed possible extensions for Cain and Bumgarner this past offseason.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that Kevin Brown, the only right-handed pitcher in history to obtain a $100MM deal, signed his contract 13 years ago and suggests the market is ready for a correction by a present-day right-hander such as Cain. The Giants are privately optimistic that they'll lock Cain up, Rosenthal writes.