Why Giants didn't keep Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco forever

Why Giants didn't keep Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco forever

The massive deals kept coming and coming, keeping fans happy and giving homegrown stars the knowledge that they might never play in another uniform.

In 2012, Matt Cain tacked on five years and $112.5 million to his deal, avoiding free agency. A year later, Buster Posey signed a nine-year, $167 million deal that could keep him in a Giants uniform through his 35th birthday. Brandon Crawford signed a $75 million deal in 2015, and Brandon Belt soon got $79 million.

The Giants were riding high, caught up in the championship era and eager to keep it going. They even spent heavily in free agency, giving $220 million to pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, and handed a $62 million check to closer Mark Melancon the next winter. 

This is an organization that prints money, but when it came time to hand it out to the players, one name curiously was left on the sidelines, and he might be the biggest one of all. 

Madison Bumgarner did get his life-changing deal, signing a contract as a 22-year-old that guaranteed him at least $35 million and ended up being worth much more than that. He pitched for the Giants through both option years in the contract, adding on $24 million in earnings.

Bumgarner had played just one full big league season at the time he signed the deal, but he still was taking a risk. He opted for security for his family, saying that the contract "took a weight off my shoulders."

"Now I just have to go out there and pitch," he said in 2012.

The problem for Bumgarner was that he pitched so well that the deal quickly became a steal for the organization. And the problem for Giants fans today is that the two sides never tore it up. 

Bumgarner got his massive payday Sunday, agreeing to a five-year, $85 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He no longer is a Giant, and while the new front office will take a lot of blame for that fact, this is a situation they inherited. This is a day that's been coming for a couple of years. 

Ownership and the previous front office went into the 2017 season planning to give Bumgarner an extension at the end of the year if he continued to pitch as he always had. He would be two years from free agency at that point, and the timing finally was right. They knew the range of what it would cost to get it done, and this was the closest the two sides ever came to making Bumgarner a Giant For Life.

But when Bumgarner hurt his shoulder in a dirt bike accident in April, everything changed. 

The Giants were not vindictive. They could have fined Bumgarner, lessening their Competitive Balance Tax hit and potentially getting close enough to the threshold that they would dip under, as they eventually worked so hard to do in 2018. The organization stood behind the ace during that process, but the relationship never was quite the same. The Giants had concerns about Bumgarner's shoulder moving forward, and there was a disconnect between the pitcher and the staff as he went through the rehab process.

It was glaring that nobody showed up in San Jose for Bumgarner's last rehab start despite the fact that the Giants were in the All-Star break. 

That year was the best opportunity for a long-term extension. The Giants did briefly consider tearing up the existing deal when Bumgarner carried them to a third championship in 2014, putting his own future on the line by taking on a monumental workload. They could have locked him up with Posey, who got his deal after the 2012 title, but ultimately the front office decided that it didn't make sense to do anything with five full years left on Bumgarner's deal. 

So, the sides continued a happy relationship, with 2017 viewed as a good opportunity for an extension. The Giants were so set on it that team officials involved Posey in the process, but an injury that year and another fluke one when Bumgarner was hit by a line drive in 2018 scuttled any talks. 

"If you look back at all those years, it really was the perfect storm," a source said recently.

The talks never got serious this season, with both sides resigned to let Bumgarner try free agency for the first time. The Giants did circle back this week, and their four-year offer to Bumgarner would have come with a higher average annual value than the one he accepted from the D-backs. But Bumgarner was not going to leave $10-15 million on the table, not this time. 

Bumgarner never has publicly complained about his contract, but those close to him knew it was something that gnawed at him. He sometimes asked friends why the Giants had locked up so many core members but didn't do the same with him. When his friend Clayton Kershaw got a three-year, $93 million extension from the Dodgers, Bumgarner privately wondered why he wasn't in line for a similar deal. 

[RELATED: MadBum's departure signals Giants are in a full rebuild]

By then, the Giants no longer were operating that way, and when Bumgarner showed up this spring, it was clear that he would have to play out his final year under a cloud of trade rumors and uncertainty. Early in the spring, Bumgarner was asked about his future. 

"Obviously, this is where I came up. I've been through a lot here," Bumgarner said. "A lot of good times and a few bad times, also. Obviously I would love to stay here. If that happens or not, I don't know. Some parts are in my control, some parts aren't."

D-backs troll Giants over Madison Bumgarner signing, 2017 Opening Day

D-backs troll Giants over Madison Bumgarner signing, 2017 Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner left the Giants for the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency this offseason, and in an ironic twist, MLB aired the 2017 Opening Day game between the two teams Thursday.

On April 2, 2017, with Bumgarner on the mound for the Giants, they were trying to win their fourth straight Opening Day start.

Bumgarner had an incredible day on the mound and at the plate. In addition to striking out 11 in seven innings, the Giants ace also belted two home runs.

But Mark Melancon, making his Giants' debut, blew the save in the bottom of the ninth.

With the 2020 season on hold, MLB decided to re-air memorable Opening Day games Thursday, and MLB Network sent out a tweet to promote the broadcast of that game.

The D-backs' social media team responded with this tweet.

Giants fans are already hurting over the loss of Bumgarner to a division rival. They don't need his new team to rub it in.

[RELATED: Zaidi doesn't regret holding onto Bumgarner]

Hopefully for the Giants, when the 2020 season starts, they can get the last laugh on the field.

How Giants will be impacted by MLB-MLBPA agreement for 2020 season

How Giants will be impacted by MLB-MLBPA agreement for 2020 season

This is the furthest thing from business as usual for Major League Baseball, but there was still plenty of work to be done over the last couple of weeks. The league and the MLB Players' Association have been hard at work trying to figure out what a 2020 season might look like if players are cleared to return at some point this summer, and how to prepare financially and behind the scenes. 

An agreement was reached Thursday and ratified by owners Friday morning. There is plenty to catch up on, and Jeff Passan of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic did a nice job of providing all the information. Here are some of the key points, with notes on what they specifically mean for the Giants:

--- Service time was the main priority for the MLBPA, which wasn't a surprise. The owners have held service time over players' heads for years, and it's the main reason why top prospects are often left off April rosters. The sides agreed that a player will receive the same number of days in 2020 as he did in 2019 if the season is canceled. If there's not a full season, players will still earn a full year of service time. 

This means that, no matter what, Mookie Betts will get his year of time and be a free agent at the end of the year, which is a small blow to the Dodgers. This isn't that big a deal for the Giants. Jeff Samardzija is the only player on a significant contract that will expire after this season. 

There is a big difference for some other guys when it comes to getting closer to arbitration and free agency. A shortened season would still count as a full one for players like Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon, who were not on Opening Day rosters last year. 

Under Farhan Zaidi, the Giants have mostly sat out free agency. But they're close to getting their books in order, and they should be in a nice position to jump in on big names now that there's a guarantee the 2020 free agent class will still exist. With Mission Rock and other side projects, the Giants are better positioned than most other teams to come out of this season with money to spend. 

--- The draft could be as short as five rounds, per ESPN's Passan, and the internationightal signing period could be pushed back to 2021. The 2021 draft could also be shortened to 20 rounds. 

The MLBPA represents players on 40-man rosters, not minor leaguers or amateurs, so there was little reason for them to fight over the draft when they were getting small wins elsewhere, like an advance on salaries. The end result m get the owners closer to eliminating some minor league teams, a goal this past offseason. It also will save them a few million in draft bonuses. 

This is going to have a huge impact on the college game and junior colleges, and it's probably a big bummer for Giants scouts. Team officials believe they're a couple more good drafts away from being truly competitive, and shortened drafts in 2020 and 2021 would certainly make it harder to add talent to a system that is much improved but still needs it. 

The Giants have gone all-in on player development and are counting on finding some diamonds in the rough. Take, for example, Sean Roby. He was a 12th-round draft pick out Arizona Western College in 2018 and after a solid 2019 year he got seven spring at-bats this year, picking up five hits and six RBI. Those are the types of players the Giants are hoping to get into their system and develop every year. 

A five-round draft would still get some high-end talent into every system, but a lot of players would miss out on taking a shot at their dream. Dubon was a 26th-round pick. Yastrzemski went in the 14th round. Tyler Rogers was picked in the 10th round. A lot of amateurs will be left on the outside. 

[RELATED: How Dubon is staying ready]

--- The agreement was necessary to iron out some financial details as both sides seek further clarity on what comes next. At some point they'll need to figure out what spring training looks like, how much they'll expand rosters, if there will be an All-Star break, how many doubleheaders they can play, how late a shortened season can go, and much more. 

But the league, like the rest of society, is on hold: