Giants southpaw Madison Bumgarner discussed his future with the organization in a chat with Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s certainly well worth a full read.
Bumgarner, 29, says that the club has yet to reach out regarding a possible contract extension. As things stand, he indicated, he’s not sure what the team’s intentions are as it prepares for an offseason of uncertainty.
Of course, it’s certain that Bumgarner’s 2019 option will be exercised. But it’s at least possible to imagine the San Francisco club seeking offers after picking it up at a bargain $12MM rate. Despite some areas of concern that have arisen this year for the big lefty, there’d be plenty of demand for his services if he was made available.
Bumgarner says he hasn’t entertained the thought that his time with the Giants could conceivably be nearing an end, explaining that he’s “a one-day-at-a-time kind of guy.” Of course, he did also say that he’d “like to be [in San Francisco] my whole career,” so it seems fair to assume that Bumgarner isn’t exactly itching for a change of scenery.
Certainly, it’d be interesting to see how talks might progress if the Giants open negotiations with the southpaw’s reps at The Legacy Agency. His outstanding track record speaks for itself, of course. He’s a premium regular season performer and postseason legend.
Despite the obvious positives, Bumgarner has shown some cracks. He has missed significant time in each of the past two seasons, breaking a string of six-straight 200-inning campaigns. He also hasn’t been as dominant when on the hill. This year, for instance, Bumgarner has a 3.14 ERA but is averaging only 7.5 K/9 and surrendering a career-high 3.1 BB/9.
The future is uncertain to an extent not previously seen for one of the game’s preeminent workhorses. Estimators value Bumgarner as a low-4.00 ERA hurler. He’s allowing far more hard contact (40.1%) than ever before, while posting declines in swinging-strike rate (9.5%) and average fastball velocity (90.8 mph). That he has nevertheless succeeded is a credit to Bumgarner, to be sure, but sustainability remains in question.
As Schulman explains, there are a host of variables at play. Though Bumgarner says he doesn’t expect to command a premium for the excess value he provided under his early-career extension, he does note that “guys are looking to get paid what they think they’re worth compared to the market and how other players are getting paid.” What that might be in this case, and whether the Giants are positioned to make that sort of deal, is open to debate — and negotiation.