Giants Extend Madison Bumgarner
The big news today is the extension announced for uber-lefty Madison Bumgarner. Initial reports say the deal buys out all of his arbitration years as well as his first year of free agency, and will likely be valued around $30-35 million. The deal also has two options covering the second and third years of free agency in 2018 and 2019. Following Matt Cain’s extension, this locks up two-thirds of the “Big Three,” leaving Tim Lincecum as the lone holdout.
As free agency has proven over the last decade or so, left-handed pitchers get paid a lot of money to just to be left-handed (see Zito, Barry). Bumgarner provides the added bonus of being both left-handed and really really good at the game of baseball. In his first extended tour at the big league level, he was a World Series hero. He followed this act in 2011 by establishing himself as one of the premier lefties in the game, pitching to the tune of a 3.21 ER A, a 2.97 FIP to go along with an 8.40 K/9 and a 2.20 BB/9. Given that he’s accomplished so much in such a short span of time, it’s easy to forget that he’s just 22 years young and has his best years ahead of him.
So what makes MadBum so damn special? He was drafted in the first round (tenth overall) way back in 2007 as a one-pitch fastball specialist who was still learning how to throw a curveball. In his first minor league season he put all our doubts to rest with an unreal 10.42 K/9 and a 1.33 BB/9. It wasn’t long before he got the call-up to the Major Leagues, where he incited mass hysteria when his much-heralded velocity sat around 88-89 mph. This led to all manner of wild speculation that was later assuaged when everything went back to normal the following season when the Giants won the World Series.
2012 was lauded by many as the season that Bumgarner would take his place on the mantle as an elite starting pitcher. As a leftywho strikes out a lot of guys, walks almost no one, and is in his early 20s, there was a good chance his first arbitration year would have resulted in an enormous payout. Instead of waiting for the inevitable payday though, he chose to stay here for the next five years at fixed rate. To me this shows a commitment on his part to being a Giant, and makes a clear statement from the front office that he belongs here for the foreseeable future. Kudos all around for this one.