The first question any candidate should be asked when it comes to the roster is whether they see Madison Bumgarner as a trade chip or an ace to build around.
There is merit to both.
After two seasons out of the playoff hunt, the Giants are in need of a rebuild. Bumgarner is clearly their best trade chip if they decide to go with a full rebuild and can give the Giants a great return on prospects from a team that feels they are one pitcher away from a championship.
However, if the Giants are able to hold onto their ace, they can build a team around him and have a pitcher they know will be able to lead them into October.
There are three options:
- Trade him before the season starts.
- Trade him at the deadline.
- Sign him to an extension.
Trading him has some flexibility because with a low salary next season ($12 million) and Bumgarner still young (29 years old) there will be plenty of teams willing to give up prospects before and during the season. They may even get a better return if they wait until the deadline and let teams that are fighting for the playoffs overpay to get him.
Extending him does two things for the San Francisco Giants:
- Keeps their best player in orange and black.
- Takes pressure off their entire pitching staff.
Keeping Bumgarner allows for them slot Rodriguez and Suarez one slot lower in the rotation and keeps the pitching staff strong.
For all the struggles this season, the staff was one of the best in baseball the second half of the season.