Will Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith return?
Ace Madison Bumgarner and All-Star closer Will Smith were both tendered a qualifying offer ahead of each player’s first foray into free agency.
In Bumgarner’s case, he’s a lock to turn down the one-year, $17.8 million QO in favor of pursuing a multi-year deal, and the Atlanta Braves have reportedly emerged as the early favorites to sign him, according to Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area.
It’s also worth noting this passage from Pavlovic:
“He pitched on a below-market deal for most of his time in San Francisco, but never once complained. Still, sources close to the pitcher say there will be no hometown discount, not after the Giants paid most of their core but never locked up their ace.”
In other words, don’t expect the Giants to be able to low-ball their way into a reunion with Bumgarner. If they want him back, it’s going to take a significant commitment in both years and dollars.
As for Smith, he could actually accept the one-year deal.
He’s the top relief pitcher on the free-agent market and should have no problem landing a three-year deal, with some team perhaps willing to go to a fourth year to get him signed.
However, it’s unlikely he’ll eclipse that $17.8 million figure in terms of AAV, so if he’s willing to bet on himself having just as much free agency appeal next offseason, he could take the 2020 payday and stick around for one more season.
The departure of either player would leave a glaring hole on the roster, so there’s no question this is one of the biggest early offseason storylines.