When Madison Bumgarner takes the mound on Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, it very well could be his last start in a San Francisco Giants uniform.
Before anyone starts throwing rocks at me, hear me out. I certainly believe Madison Bumgarner will pitch for the Giants next, and hopefully many years to come, but that’s not a given.
The Giants hold a $12 million team option for 2019, which they will undoubtedly pick up, but after that he will become a free agent at age 30.
In my opinion, one of two things have to happen over the next year: Either the Giants have to extend Madison Bumgarner and pay him based on what he’s done for the franchise, or trade him and get some real value.
A lot of that will depend on who becomes the new general manager of the team, and what direction they want to go moving forward.
I’ve been in the camp for a while that the Giants need to tear it down and rebuild, or at least do a soft rebuild. I know it’s harder to do a rebuild with a franchise like the Giants who have a strong fanbase who now expects to win every year.
If the front office does decide to sell, then moving Bumgarner should become their priority.
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The best way, and quickest way, to turn this franchise around is by gathering a lot of young talent. That’s how teams like the Cubs, Astros, Yankees, and Braves have become so successful.
Even with just one year of control — at a very affordable price — Bumgarner would be one of the hottest arms on the market this winter. I still think the Giants could get a very nice package for the ace lefty.
Do I think that will happen? No.
As we’ve seen over the years, the Giants are very loyal to players that have helped them win championships — sometimes to a fault.
While I certainly wouldn’t be upset if the Giants extended Bumgarner and kept him here for five more years, I’m not sure it would be in the best interest of the team.
This will be his second straight year with an ERA over three, and the second straight year he’s missed significant time due to an injury.
He’ll play most of next year at 29, which means he’s still in his prime and we should expect him to be a great pitcher for at least a few more years.
I worry that if the Giants sign him long-term we’ll be overpaying an aging player for what they’ve done in the past, and those kinds of deals don’t make much sense anymore.
I want to reiterate that I love Madison Bumgarner and hope he’s a Giant for life. But don’t be surprised if Friday is his last start as a San Francisco Giant.