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.
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."