Giants

The bigger picture to Stanton turning down the Giants

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The bigger picture to Stanton turning down the Giants

Larry Baer’s grand play to make Giancarlo Stanton his own Barry Bonds seems to have failed by all reports, and the San Francisco Giants will have to seek another path back to relevance.
 
Stanton mulled over the Giants’ Warrior-esque sales job has ended with him wanting those other notoriously west coast cities Chicago and Houston in addition to Los Angeles.
 
We have our answer – the predictable one.
 
Whether it was the ballpark, the city, the seemingly bleak future or a willingness to hold Miami’s feet to the pizza oven awhile longer to get what he wants, Stanton decided the Giants’ rebuild was no more appealing to him than the Marlins’ rebuild, and that his future would involve only two trips to San Francisco every year.
 
The result of his decision to take Option AE – Anything Else – is a chilling one for the Giants, because it means that their days of selling those three World Series rings are over, and that they are being judged not by their first five years of the decade, when they were the best postseason bet in the game, but by their last 18 months, in which they were the worst team in baseball.

[RELATED: The Giants forever changed 25 years ago]
 
It also serves as a stark reminder that perhaps the only contemporary player who could make AT&T Park bow to his whims didn’t want to engage in that battle. After all, even in the Bonds Era, this has been a viciously anti-homer ballpark, ranking since its opening 20th, 29th, 30th, 25th, 21st, 26th, 30th, 29th, 29th, 26th, 17th (GLOBAL WARMING ALERT!), 30th, 30th, 27th, 27th, 30th, 30th and 30th.
 
That’s out of 30, in case you forgot.
 
It is also a statement that with distance comes clarity. The rest of baseball sees the Giants in decline, which means that they either have to make a new lights-out rotation and bullpen like that which sustained them in the first half of this decade, learn how to find and develop outfielders the way they have infielders, or turn the ballpark into a bandbox, a notion that has always horrified Baer’s sense of architectural purity.
 
And without Giancarlo Stanton, the man most capable of transforming the park, the Giants will have to do this the hard way. The closest thing to Barry Bonds said no, so the Giants need to find the closest thing to Madison Bumgarner . . . and Buster Posey . . . and Brandon Crawford . . . and keep doing it until they have filled every roster spot.
 
See, I told you it would be the hard way. True, they save a minimum of $77 million in salary, but as the fans are more than willing to remind them, you can’t throw a wheelbarrow of money into the batter’s box and expect it to drive in runs.
 
And baseball, after all, is still the most important thing the Giants have to sell.

MLB free agency: What Madison Bumgarner's market looks like early on

MLB free agency: What Madison Bumgarner's market looks like early on

SAN FRANCISCO -- The free-agent market has moved faster than it did a year ago, with Will Smith signing in Atlanta right before the qualifying offer deadline and Yasmani Grandal getting a four-year deal from the White Sox this week. But all has been quiet thus far for the biggest names in the starting pitching market, including Madison Bumgarner. 

The longtime Giants ace turned down the qualifying offer as expected and has been the subject of a few rumors, but nothing substantial enough to indicate a deal is close. During an interview on the "TK Show" this week, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he thinks the process will drag out a bit. 

"We've at least expressed interest and I think they're going to take their time with this process and obviously Madison has earned the right to free agency and to explore all his options," Zaidi told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. "I think they're going to be pretty methodical with it and we respect that, but we'll maintain contact."

Others have been in contact, particularly during the GM Meetings last week. Here's how Bumgarner's market is shaping up through the first three weeks of his first foray into free agency:

Giants

Gabe Kapler said earlier this week that he hasn't spoken to Bumgarner yet, but that's not a big deal. Even when he was employed by the Giants, teammates and friends joked about how hard it was to reach Bumgarner in the offseason.

Bumgarner was curious to see who Bruce Bochy's replacement would be, and it's easy to say the fit with Kapler would be less than ideal. They are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to a lot of how they think about the game, but ultimately Bumgarner just wants to win, so the evaluation process would simply be about how quickly he thinks Kapler could get him back to the postseason.

As I've written a few times already, most people within the building feel that Bumgarner will be playing elsewhere next season. But there's always that chance his market dries up and Bumgarner's best option is to come back to San Francisco. 

Braves

The connection was there even before Smith signed with the Braves. When he was introduced to the media in Atlanta, Smith was asked about reuniting with Bumgarner.

"I don't know, maybe. We'll see," he told reporters. "That'd be great, especially with the kind of talent he is. But we'll see what they've got."

The Braves had interest in Bumgarner before the deadline, sources have told NBC Sports Bay Area, and they planned to make a push for him in free agency. That's basically the same way they felt about Smith, and they got that done. The Braves remain the cleanest fit if Bumgarner is not wearing orange and black. 

Yankees

Speaking of clean fits, this team isn't it. But, the Yankees have shown some interest. 

"I will definitely talk to Bumgarner's agency," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. 

The Yankees could use another starter for the postseason and they're relatively close to Bumgarner's offseason home in North Carolina. But, playing in the American League would take the bat out of Bumgarner's hands, which figures to be a bigger deal to him than any other pitcher. 

Phillies

The best case for Bumgarner and his representatives? That would be getting two NL East rivals -- who just watched the Nationals win a World Series -- involved in a bidding war. 

The Phillies had interest in Bumgarner in the past and they are at it once again, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. 

[RELATED: Time for Giants to kick tires on Rendon?]

Padres

A dark horse, and they're truly fascinating. The Padres looked like an ideal trade deadline destination before their hot start wore off, and Bumgarner did his due diligence about their organization when it appeared he might end up there. 

The Padres offer a division he knows, a rotation that needs a workhorse ahead of Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet and all the young starters they have coming through the minors, a ballpark that's often filled with Giants fans and an intriguing roster that should be in the postseason race. 

They were connected to Stephen Strasburg earlier in the offseason but Bumgarner would come cheaper, and they have interest: 

The fit is there. Plus, Bumgarner might be reunited with Bochy in a year.

(Kidding! Sort of.)

Giants manager Gabe Kapler hasn't spoken with free agent Madison Bumgarner

Giants manager Gabe Kapler hasn't spoken with free agent Madison Bumgarner

Giants manager Gabe Kapler has dealt with a lot during his first few weeks in office, from constantly addressing and explaining a controversy stemming from his time with the Dodgers to navigating being the replacement for a three-time World Series champion in Bruce Bochy.

But as the MLB offseason and free agency have opened up, Kapler and Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi have a lot of choices to make on which players to re-sign and which new players to bring in.

One player that Kapler hasn’t spoken to is former All-Star pitcher and current free agent Madison Bumgarner.

“I have not talked to MadBum yet,” Kapler said Thursday on 95.7 The Game. “And I’m very interested to see how that all plays out.” 

“I know that he’s out there exploring and I completely understand his perspective on that.”

Bumgarner reportedly has drawn interest from numerous teams in free agency, and for good reason.

After back-to-back seasons marred by injury and inconsistency, Bumgarner improved in 2019, leading the NL in games started with 34, and struck out over 200 batters.

When asked if he expects to have MadBum as his opening day starter, Kapler deflected and explained that there are a lot more decisions to be made before that day rolls around.

[RELATED: Zaidi hints at how Giants will handle Pillar contract decision]

“I’m pretty, I’m pretty focused — before we get to the roster, I know that Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris, our president of baseball ops and GM, are both making very difficult decisions right now.

“They’re deciding what our roster is going to look like. Obviously, that’s a very collaborative process. We’re having conversations every day, but right now we’re focused on building a really good coaching staff. And, I believe, I trust that our roster will be strong at the end of the day.”