Giants

Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner took his batting helmet off and tipped it to all corners of Oracle Park, acknowledging a crowd that had come to see Bruce Bochy's final game and hoped to get a glimpse of the manager's longtime ace. It looked to most in attendance that day like Bumgarner was saying goodbye to the Giants and their fans. It turns out he was.

The Madison Bumgarner Era, one of the most successful and thrilling in franchise history, reportedly has reached its end. According to multiple reports, Bumgarner and the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract.

ESPN's Jeff Passan, who first reported an agreement was near, also reported that Arizona was MadBum's top choice, and the deal was complete once the D-backs decided to give him a five-year contract. 

This was not a surprise that Bumgarner isn't returning to the Giants, or at least it shouldn't be to anyone following closely. The Giants stayed in touch with Bumgarner's camp but were never at the forefront of talks as he hit free agency for the first time, focusing instead on a rebuild that will lead to significant roster changes. Bumgarner expected to be traded throughout much of the first half of 2019, but a winning streak before the deadline kept him in San Francisco two additional months. 

If you go back further, this day has been looming for years. The Giants gave Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt massive extensions and spent $220 million on Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, but they never ripped up the below-market deal Bumgarner signed as a 22-year-old. The sides played it out until the end of the contract, never coming close to an extension as free agency approached.

 

Still, for as much as this was telegraphed, it is still a body blow for a fan base that has taken quite a few uppercuts in recent months. 

Bumgarner won more games as a Giant than any other member of the dynasty, going 119-92 with a 3.13 ERA in 11 seasons. He is fourth in franchise history with 1,794 strikeouts and started more games as a San Francisco Giants than anyone other than Juan Marichal and Matt Cain. 

For all that he did in the regular season, Bumgarner will be forever known for his October heroics. He is the best big-game pitcher of his generation, twice throwing shutouts in the Wild Card Game and dragging the Giants to a third title with 52 2/3 masterful innings in the 2014 playoffs. Bumgarner capped that run, the likes of which we will likely never see again, with a five-inning save in Game 7 of the World Series. He finishes his time with the Giants with a 0.25 ERA in World Series appearances.

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Bumgarner was beloved for much more than the pitching dominance, though. It was appropriate that his final appearance came as a pinch-hitter, because he hit 19 homers in 11 seasons, becoming a mythical figure in San Francisco. There was seemingly nothing he couldn't will himself to when standing between the lines, but that run is officially over for the Giants and their fans.

The Giants are moving in a different direction, building towards 2021 and beyond and turning their pitching staff over to the next wave. It will be a painful process at times, and the organization might look back at this day as the hardest one of them all.