SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.–At his introductory press conference in November, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi ushered in a new era with a bold proclamation.
“Everything has got to be on the table.”
Even a potential trade of Madison Bumgarner.
Four months after Zaidi was hired to lead the franchise into the future, Bumgarner strolled into the clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium Tuesday as pitchers and catchers reported to Giants camp. Later this week, he’ll begin preparing for his 10th season with the club.
Did an offseason filled with speculation about his uncertain future feel different?
“Same as all the other years,” Bumgarner said.
As he enters the final year of a contract he signed back in 2012, the left-hander is regarded as one of the team’s most tradable assets. After the Giants lost 187 games over the last two seasons, the new front office expressed a desire to become younger and more athletic, potentially setting the stage for unpopular transactions.
Over the winter, the Giants fielded calls from interested parties about the team’s willingness to part with Bumgarner. Though Zaidi answered the phone, he never dealt the pitcher who the Giants expect to take the ball on Opening Day.
Bumgarner insisted he doesn’t pay attention to what’s out of his control. Catcher Buster Posey, on the other hand, did keep tabs on the rumors.
“I pay attention to what’s going on and the rumblings, so yeah, I think there obviously was some question,” Posey said. “But I felt like there was a pretty good chance that he was going to be here. And we sure are glad that he is.”
Posey and Bumgarner are the longest-tenured Giants and along with Pablo Sandoval, they’re the only members of the roster left with three World Series rings. They’re also two fierce competitors who have no desire to play for a rebuilding club.
So far, Zaidi hasn’t indicated he plans to tear the Giants down, but he hasn’t gone all in with transactions that suggest he believes the club will contend immediately.
“My plan is winning this year,” Bumgarner said Tuesday. “I think that’s everybody in this clubhouse’s plan. Regardless of the names that you see or you don’t see, I’ve been part of teams that we won when we weren’t supposed to and we shouldn’t have.”
Should the Giants fall out the playoff race this summer, Bumgarner’s name will again surface in trade rumors. At 29, he has an incredible track record of postseason success and could net the Giants a package of prospects that sets the team up for the future.
Prioritizing the future ahead of the present isn’t an idea that’s easy to stomach for his teammates.
“We hope that we’re in a position come the trade deadline where we’re in a position where it makes absolutely no sense for him to be anywhere else,” Posey said.
Though the Giants and Bumgarner haven’t discussed another long-term extension recently, the staff ace is open to the idea of remaining with the franchise beyond 2019.
“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. But 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. Right now, I’m just focused on getting this year started and getting back to the postseason.”