How Madison Bumgarner could be a San Francisco Giant again

Madison Bumgarner, shown handing the baseball to his manager, has struggled since leaving the SF Giants. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Madison Bumgarner, shown handing the baseball to his manager, has struggled since leaving the SF Giants. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Former San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner has struggled in Arizona

When longtime San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner left the City by the Bay in favor of the desert and the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency, many fans were disappointed to see the legendary southpaw leave.

But his early struggles in Arizona could provide an opportunity for him to return to the Giants sooner rather than later.

So far in three starts for the Diamondbacks, Bumgarner in 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA. His ugliest start yet came against the Houston Astros last night. In 4-1/3 innings, he gave up seven earned runs, among them two home runs, ballooning his ERA to its current average.

Of course, it is still very early in the season and very early in Bumgarner’s Diamondback career. The Diamondbacks signed Bum to a five year, $85 million deal so the chances are that they are not going to give up on him after a few bad starts or even a bad year.

However, many Giants fans remember another beloved World Series legend who signed a five-year deal with another team in free agency only to get released a few years later and rejoin the Giants at a discounted price. I am referring to the Panda, Pablo Sandoval.

In the 2014 offseason, the Red Sox signed Sandoval to a five year, $95 million deal. But three years into that contract, with his average in a Red Sox uniform at .237 and his WAR at -2.0, the Red Sox cut him loose, paying off the remainder of his enormous deal while the Giants only had to pay him the league minimum.

When his Red Sox contract finally expired last offseason, the Giants were able to re-sign him to a $2 million dollar deal after he proved to still be a valuable bench presence and pinch hitter. The Giants were essentially able to avoid giving Sandoval a bunch of money for the worst stretch of his career only to get him back at a fraction of the price to be a solid role-player.

Could a similar scenario unfold with Bumgarner in Arizona?

To be clear, Bumgarner would have to struggle mightily for at least the next few years in Arizona before the Diamondbacks would decide to cut him loose. They have invested a lot of money in him and they will not pull the plug unless he puts up career-worst numbers a few years in a row.

But if Bumgarner’s early struggles are any indication of what his time in Arizona will be like overall, then a scenario in which the Giants are able to bring Bumgarner back to San Francisco for a fraction of his current salary is still far fetched, but plenty of fun to dream about.