During one of his media sessions at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was asked about the team being in a rebuild. Zaidi turned the question around, asking the reporter how he would define a rebuild.
This. This is a rebuild.
Madison Bumgarner reportedly agreeing to a contract with a division rival for $85 million at the end of a week where the only team he has ever known spent $12 million to buy a first-round pick and $9 million on a pitcher who has never had sustained big league success but might turn into a back-end starter and might turn into a trade chip in July. That's a pretty good definition of a rebuild.
To be clear, there's nothing wrong with this plan.
The Giants brought Zaidi in because they were in an unmanageable situation. The big league team had hit new lows on the field, the farm system wasn't producing, and far too much money had been given out to declining veterans. Zaidi was given a blank slate, and he has proven to be creative and unwavering in his commitment to making the roster better.
He will do it, too. Executives around the league believe the Giants will be a powerhouse again in a few years, the kind of sustainable winner Zaidi helped build in Los Angeles.
But that process takes time and brings pain, and today is the most hurtful day yet for a fan base that has taken one hit after another over the last year. A rebuild is energizing when you're behind the scenes, but it's not easy on those actually paying for the tickets and swallowing $18 sandwiches and $13 beers.
The Giants know that, Zaidi included. Despite what many in the fan base might think, he is well-aware of how difficult this is to watch. Ownership is, too. The Giants know their fans won't show up next year, but they're also confident they'll return when the rebuild is over.
Whenever that is, we'll see just how much damage has been done. This is not as bad as it would have been had Bumgarner signed with the Dodgers, but this is still a crushing blow for a fan base that showed its displeasure last season by simply not showing up to the ballpark.
It is fair to ask if there would have been space in a rebuild for Bumgarner. It doesn't always have to be about stats and future budgets. Sometimes it's simple. He's Madison Bumgarner, a player who dragged a third title back to San Francisco and might have a statue outside the ballpark one day. And now he's no longer a Giant.
Sure, there's a vision for the future, but fans just want to be entertained, and even the last three years, most Bumgarner starts remained an event.
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The Giants could have done both. They are a behemoth with plenty of bad contracts coming off their books in the next two years. They could have signed Bumgarner and continued to build, but that's not the path they will follow.
This is a rebuild, a significant one. The Giants are tearing it down with the hopes that they'll soon build another winner and perhaps find a player as beloved as the one who walked out the door Sunday.
Madison Bumgarner leaving shows Giants now in full-blown rebuild mode originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area