Madison Bumgarner, Giants Face Uncertainty at Start of Final Contract Year

SAN FRANCISCO -- After an offseason so quiet that MLB players started openly saying words like "collusion" and "strike," team owners have opened their checkbooks in a different type of way.

Free agency was controversial, but there has been an unprecedented wave of contract extensions for star players, with more than a billion dollars handed out over the past week alone. There were new deals for superstar position players -- Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, and Alex Bregman -- but aces have cleaned up, too. 

Over a span of six days, five top-of-the-rotation arms -- Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Blake Snell, and Kyle Hendricks -- guaranteed themselves a combined $461.5 million dollars. But at Oracle Park, the Giants' biggest moves this past week have been waiver claims and minor trades. 

The free agent class of 2019 has lost a lot of star power, but Madison Bumgarner remains, and as the Giants left-handed prepares to start on Opening Day for the fifth time, there's no indication that a deal will get done before he's scheduled to hit the market this fall. 

Bumgarner knows what he wants, though. Asked Tuesday if he'd still like to stay with the Giants long term, the 29-year-old nodded. 

"For sure," Bumgarner told NBC Sports Bay Area. "I've spent my entire career here and went through some really good times and some bad ones, too. That's just part of playing the game. I feel like if you play it long enough, that's going to happen, so it's kind of good and bad at the same time, but we'll see."

It was not lost on Bumgarner that so many of his fellow starters cashed in over the past week, but he declined to comment about any talks that might have taken place on his end.

"I have too much respect for this organization to talk about contractual stuff publicly," he said. 

Farhan Zaidi, in his first season as the Giants' president of baseball operations, gave only a bit more info while echoing Bumgarner, a three-time World Series champion and four-time All-Star in his nine-plus San Francisco seasons.

"The lines of communication are always going to be open with his representation," Zaidi said. "But I wouldn't want to comment publicly beyond that."

Zaidi has said publicly that he must be open to anything, given the Giants' situation, and the team did listen to trade offers on Bumgarner during the offseason. The expectation is that those talks will heat back up before the July 31 trade deadline, a major reason why a contract extension was unlikely all along.

One source familiar with discussions said any sort of new contract before free agency starts again would be a shock because Zaidi has to keep his options open. 

Bumgarner apparently is keeping his options open, too. Some stars have in the past presented Opening Day as a deadline for teams to negotiate contracts, but per a source, Bumgarner did not do that with the Giants this spring.

This ultimately will play out between the lines. If the Giants are surprise contenders, a Bumgarner trade in July would not make sense. And if the lefty returns to form, entering the free market might be his most desirable outcome no matter where he wants to play. Sale and Verlander, who were scheduled to be free agents, are off the board, and contenders potentially looking for an ace have lost some options during extension season.

[RELATED: Five biggest questions facing Giants in 2019]

Bumgarner might end up as one of the top prizes on the market in seven months, but he's not letting that uncertainty impact the start of his 2019 season, even if thoughts about the future occasionally slip into his mind. 

"I mean, yeah, for sure, there's no way you couldn't (think about it)," he said. "But like I always say, I'm just here to win no matter what the situation is and do what I can to help us win, wherever that's at."

Copyright CSNBY - CSN BAY
Contact Us