Why Giants' Madison Bumgarner is 'most fascinating' in MLB free agency

Why Giants' Madison Bumgarner is 'most fascinating' in MLB free agency

The Giants will try to re-sign Madison Bumgarner if they can, but it's going to be costly.

While the three-time World Series champion isn't the same pitcher he used to be, Bumgarner will have no shortage of suitors on a free-agent market that includes some high-profile names.

And while Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg are stealing the headlines and expected to receive the largest paydays, Bumgarner exists as the "most fascinating" free agent outside of those three, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

"Madison Bumgarner has been so good for so long, it's easy to lose appreciation of what he has been and what he might become," Passan wrote. "In a lot of ways, Bumgarner's career numbers mirror those of another left-hander who signed a long-term deal before his age-30 season: Jon Lester. 

"Bumgarner comes with more mileage than Lester and didn't have nearly the same walk season, but the stuff itself is very similar. Lester's fastball velocity going into free agency: 91.8 mph. Bumgarner's last season: 91.4 mph. Lester's cutter: 87.8 mph. Bumgarner's slider: 87.3 mph. Both throw a looping curveball and a changeup too."

Lester signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs after the 2014 season. While Passan doesn't necessarily expect Bumgarner to receive an identical offer, he rejects the notion that MadBum has precipitously fallen off.

"The idea that Bumgarner is some diminished version of himself is ludicrous," Passan continued. "His 207 2/3 innings last season illustrate that, as do his 203 strikeouts and nearly 5-to-1 walk rate. All that from the best pitcher in World Series history? That should play."

[RELATED: What Giants giving qualifying offers to MadBum, Smith mean]

MLB Trade Rumors predicts Bumgarner will sign for substantially less than Lester did. However, it only takes one team, and that still could be San Francisco.

Where new Giants prospect Will Wilson ranks in team's farm system

Where new Giants prospect Will Wilson ranks in team's farm system

The Giants essentially bought veteran infielder Zack Cozart's contract from the Angels on Tuesday to add a talented young prospect.

San Francisco acquired Cozart and middle infield prospect Will Wilson from the Angels for a player to be named later or cash. The Giants are taking on all of Cozart's $12.67 million contract for the 2020 season. Cozart will become a free agent in 2021. The 34-year-old, who has hit just .190 with five home runs the last two seasons, was an All-Star when healthy in 2017, but Wilson is the real prize of the deal. 

Wilson was selected No. 15 overall by the Angels in the 2019 MLB Draft. He immediately became a top-10 Giants prospect after the trade. MLB Pipeline ranks him No. 10 overall in the team's farm system, and FanGraphs has him even higher. 

The 21-year-old hit .275 with a .768 OPS and five home runs in 46 games at rookie ball in his debut season. He played 28 games at shortstop and 13 at second base. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Wilson will play both positions in the minor leagues, and the front office believes he will stick as a middle infielder. 

[RELATED: New Giants prospect Wilson already hates rival Dodgers]

Wilson was a consensus All-American as a junior at NC State, and was voted ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He hit .352 with nine homers and a 1.089 OPS in his final season for the Wolfpack. 

Prior to being traded to the Giants, Wilson was ranked as the Angels' No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He comes in lower with San Francisco, showing how much the Giants' farm system is on the rise with top prospects like Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos, Marco Luciano and others. 

MLB rumors: Didi Gregorius chose Phillies over Giants due to Joe Girardi

MLB rumors: Didi Gregorius chose Phillies over Giants due to Joe Girardi

The Giants added a veteran shortstop Tuesday when they acquired Zack Cosart and prospect Will Wilson in a trade with the Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Wilson was the prize of the deal, but there remains a possibility that Cozart could play a considerable role in San Francisco's middle infield this coming season.

As it turns out, though, the Giants reportedly went after a different veteran shortstop before pursuing the trade with the Angels. Didi Gregorius signed a one-year, $14 million contract with the Phillies on Tuesday, and according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury, Gregorius reportedly chose them over the Giants in part due to the presence of Phillies manager Joe Girardi.

Gregorius previously played under Girardi with the Yankees, and it would appear they enjoyed their time together. While his offensive numbers might have been inflated somewhat by Yankee Stadium, Gregorius remains a standout defender and he was worth at least four WAR in both 2017 and 2018.

[RELATED: New Giants prospect Wilson already hates rival Dodgers]

The Giants absorbed the entirety of the $12.67 remaining on Cozart's contract, so there isn't much of a price difference between he and Gregorius. That said, the fact that San Francisco was able to acquire the Angels' No. 4 ranked prospect along with Cozart likely made that the more prudent acquisition.