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San Francisco Giants: How to approach Madison Bumgarner’s free agency

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at AT&T Park on September 28, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at AT&T Park on September 28, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 16: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the top of the first inning at AT&T Park on September 16, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Hunter Ruetz

The first step for the San Francisco Giants will be to put forth a qualifying offer. The qualifying offer is the average of the top 125 largest salaries in the league. That number was $17.9 million last offseason, and it will undoubtedly climb again this winter.

Will Bumgarner accept that one-year offer?

Ehhh, probably not.

Bumgarner will likely be looking for more long-term security than a one-year deal would provide. However, extending that offer will serve as an insurance policy for the Giants. If he does take his talents elsewhere, they would then be eligible to receive draft pick compensation.

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Personally, I believe the Giants will do everything in their power to keep Bumgarner in San Francisco as long as he wants to be there. Even at his age, he is still capable of pitching at a high level, and the Giants didn’t shy away from signing a 30-year-old Johnny Cueto to a long-term deal a few years back.

So going back to our original timeline, if all goes as expected, Bumgarner will reject the qualifying offer. That’s when negotiations will begin with the Giants and all 29 other teams on the free-agent market. I believe that the Cueto contract can be used as a guideline when looking at what the Giants should offer.

The six-year, $140 million contract that Patrick Corbin signed with the Washington Nationals last year is a good guide as well. He didn’t reach free agency with the same track record as Bumgarner, but he was also a year younger.

With those two contracts in mind, I believe the Giants max offer should be a six-year, $135 million contract with a full no-trade clause.

That amount would not only pay respect to Bumgarner by making him the highest-paid pitcher on the team, but would also allow the front office further flexibility to add another weapon or two.

The Giants could also create further payroll flexibility in the near-term by back-loading the deal. With a farm system on the rise and some good, cost-controlled young talent expected to arrive in the years to come, paying Bumgarner $15 million for the first two years and $25 million for the final four years could help balance the books.

An average salary of $25 million over those final four years would put Bumgarner in the same company as Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Stephen Strasburg, which sounds like the exact group that he should be classified in.

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The Giants need an ace, and with the uncertainty that comes with Cueto’s return from injury and Tyler Beede’s below-average play as of late, there are no pitchers under contract that can fill that role. Bumgarner needs to be brought back, and this offer should get it done.

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