According to multiple reports, the San Francisco Giants have signed Madison Bumgarner to a five year contract extension for $35 million. The deal begins in 2013, and includes two club options for 2018 and 2019 worth $12 million each, which could escalate to $14 million (with top three finish in Cy Young voting) and $16 million (with Cy Young Award win). The 2018 option could vest according to the 22 year old’s performance the previous season.
Assuming that Bumgarner doesn’t reach Super Two status, the guaranteed portion of the contract will cover the left handed starter’s final renewal year, all three arbitration years, and first year of free agent eligibility. If the unexpected happens, and Bumgarner does reach Super Two status at the end of this season, his guaranteed salary goes up to $40 million.
Even without the increase, $35 million would represent the most money ever guaranteed to a player with one plus year of service time, topping the deal that the Toronto Blue Jays gave to Ricky Romero. In addition, locking up Bumgarner in this fashion almost makes the two year deal that guarantees Aubrey Huff $22 million forgivable.
The deal breaks down like this, with no Super Two:
$1 million bonus, 2013: $750,000, 2014: 3.75 million, 2015: $6.75 million, 2016: $9.75 million, 2017: $11.5 million, $1.5 million option buyout.
With Super Two:
$1 million bonus, 2013: $3 million, 2014: 5.5 million, 2015: $7 million, 2016: $10 million, 2017: $12 million, $1.5 million option buyout.
If we look at the year by year breakdown with no Super Two, we see that Bumgarner is essentially getting what elite pitchers (Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver) would receive in their first two years of arbitration eligibility, but then the young pitcher gives a 30% discount for his last year of arbitration, followed by a 50% discount for his first season of free agent eligibility. Just so there are no hard feelings, the Giants will give him $1 million bonus for his trouble, and guarantee a buyout if they don’t pick up their options.
That would appear to be the cost one must pay to avoid the risks that come with going year to year.
Perhaps the best part about this deal is how great it is, not only from a team perspective, but also from a player’s perspective. The Giants potentially save $14 million (before considering inflation) by committing now to paying $35 million, but Bumgarner has a chance to reach free agency in his age 28 season at the earliest or in his age 30 season at the latest, which will still allow him to sign another large contract.
As one of my favourite players, I’ve written a lot about Bumgarner in the past. He’s fun to watch in almost every regard. Still somewhat overshadowed by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in San Francisco, Bumgarner was judged by fWAR to be the Giants’ best pitcher last season, his first full year in the Majors.
He doesn’t have overwhelming velocity on his fastball, or a penchant for inducing a ton of ground balls (not that he needs to in San Francisco). What he does have is incredible command, good movement on his pitches and an ability to use a large arsenal of grips effectively.
Bumgarner’s repertoire includes a four seam fastball and a sinker that both come in at around the same low to mid nineties velocity, a high eighties slider/cutter hybrid, a sweeping curve ball and a functional change up that he uses primarily against right handed batters.
By spotting his pitches and cleverly mixing his repertoire he’s able to frustrate batters and induce a ton of swinging strikes, especially with his slider/cutter against right handed batters. While he certainly has a boatload of talent, he doesn’t necessarily possess overwhelming velocity on his fastballs or the type of obvious natural ability on which some less interesting pitchers rely.
Of course, there is more to this deal than just . There’s also a certain other starting pitcher on the team that will be eligible for free agency after the 2013 season. As far as how the Bumgarner deal affects Tim Lincecum’s future with the club, there are two ways of looking at it.
The first is that it’s ultimately good for Lincecum assuming he can bounce back from his horrible start and regain the command and velocity for which he’s known. The Giants now have a measure of cost certainly when it comes to two thirds of their starting pitching triumvirate. That can only help cement future expenditures.
However, it can’t be forgotten that the Giants are committing a lot of money to those two players, and still have yet to address their greatest area of need which remains their offense. It could prove difficult to justify yet another big money contract being given out that doesn’t take improve the team’s lineup.