You'd think opening day would mark the end of transactional stories involving money and contracts, but the deals keep on coming.
Monday's beneficiary of long-term security: San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who agreed to a five-year deal worth $35 million (or $40 million if he qualifies as a Super Two player after this season.) Two option years are also included at the end of that period, which means the 22-year-old left-hander will likely be pitching for the Giants through the 2019 season.
With the big-money contract that Matt Cain signed earlier this month, the Giants have now committed an estimated $175 million to two parts of their rotation. The biggest question mark, of course, remains Tim Lincecum, who always eschewed the type of long-term deal that would eat up all of his arbitration eligibility. It's a strategy that's worked in his favor as he'll make about $65 million before becoming a free agent for 2014.
But will there be any money left for Lincecum in San Francisco (assuming he just doesn't give in to public worry over his poor start and quit the sport entirely before facing Roy Halladay and the Phillies on Monday night)?
Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles says he likes Bumgarner's deal because it attaches a cost certainty to the southpaw no matter how good he gets. That certainty, writes Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle, could help the Giants budget a big-money deal for Lincecum.
Whether or not Lincecum remains a Giant past 2013 remains to be seen, but it would seem this Bumgarner deal paves the way for any designs that Brian Sabean might have of retaining a Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz type trio for the rest of the decade. Though there's a good deal of risk to committing this type of long-term money to any pitcher — especially one with less than two years of service time and just 57 career starts like Bumgarner — the Giants had to land a relative bargain somewhere along the way if they wanted to keep all three. And while it's always going to sound crazy to say that giving someone $35 million qualifies as a "deal," that's exactly what San Francisco got here with Bumgarner.
Two pitchers down, one big one to go.