Longtime San Francisco Giants hero Madison Bumgarner is a free agent for the first time, and these five teams could land him.
Madison Bumgarner has been a Bay Area fixture for over a decade, etching his name in San Francisco Giants lore alongside the greats like Willie Mays, Barry Bonds and Willie McCovey. Whether or not his career ends with a coronation at Cooperstown, Bumgarner will forever be regarded as one of the most important players in Giants history. Three dominant World Series performances will do that for a guy.
The 30-year-old enters the 2019-20 offseason facing an uncertain future for the first time in his career. Bumgarner is a free agent for the first time, and a return to the Giants might not be in the cards.
San Francisco has suffered through three losing seasons in a row and is in the midst of a lengthy rebuilding process. A brief spurt above .500 this July only prolonged the inevitable, keeping Bumgarner with the Giants through the end of the year. The left-hander made it known that he wanted to see the 2019 season through to the end, but the Giants finished on a 14-24 skid and missed the playoffs.
Bumgarner is known for his postseason heroics, and for good reason. Few pitchers in MLB history have ever been better than he has in October. Bumgarner has appeared in 16 postseason games and has a 2.11 ERA in 102.1 innings. He is 4-0 in the World Series and has allowed just 14 hits and one run in 36 innings. If you don’t feel like doing the math, that’s a 0.25 ERA on the game’s biggest stage.
MadBum hasn’t been a slouch in the regular season, either, winning 119 games in 11 seasons with a 3.13 ERA and four All-Star selections. He has been a workhorse, which is good and bad. Bumgarner is coming off the worst season of his career, but he ended the year with a 3.57 ERA over his final 111 innings with 110 strikeouts.
Bumgarner is the ultimate gamer, and he will find a way to pitch effectively into his mid-thirties, but for which team?
5. San Francisco Giants
Bumgarner’s former team, the San Francisco Giants, cannot be fully ruled out in free agency. The Giants elected to keep their longtime ace at the trade deadline, which keeps the door slightly ajar for a reunion. Bumgarner gave the Giants the best years of his career at a steep discount, though, so don’t expect any sort of hometown discount.
The Giants would not have gotten much in return for Bumgarner on the trade market and decided to try for one last-ditch effort at the playoffs. They faded well below .500 by the end of the year and will not be contenders in 2020. There’s an outside shot the Giants could contend by the end of Bumgarner’s new contract, but hardly a guarantee.
If the Giants move to re-sign Bumgarner, it’s a move made more out of sentimentality than rationality. Bumgarner is an icon in San Francisco, but the future’s calling. The 30-year-old likely prefers to pitch for a contender in the final years of his prime, while the Giants need to continue their total rebuild.