MLB free agency: Analysts predict Madison Bumgarner signs with Braves

Dalton Johnson
NBC Sports BayArea

The Giants' offseason is full of question marks. Who will be their manager? Who's their next general manager? What's going on with the bullpens? Will they add a big-name free agent? 

The biggest question, however, is what will happen to their own star free agent? Madison Bumgarner, at 30 years old, is a free agent for the first time and could be saying goodbye to the only team he has known for more than a decade. 

At some point soon, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office will have to decide how much of a priority keeping Bumgarner is. At the same time, MadBum has to decide what his priorities in free agency are. 

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The current safe assumption is that Giants fans gave Bumgarner a goodbye on Game 162 this past season when pinch-hit against Clayton Kershaw. Sources have told NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic the Atlanta Braves have made Bumgarner a priority and planned to quickly communicate that to the former World Series hero. 

Those around the league seem to have the sense that Bumgarner could be headed to the Braves, too. An ESPN panel of Buster Olney, Bradford Doolittle and David Schoenfield all predicted the four-time All-Star will be in Atlanta on Opening Day. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince also placed MadBum on the Braves in a Thursday predictions piece. 

Imagining Bumgarner wearing a uniform besides the Giants' orange and black seems nearly impossible to do. Admit it, though, you can see him in a Braves jersey. The signing would make plenty of sense, too. 

The Braves are on the brink of World Series contention and need a veteran like Bumgarner to lead their young staff. With pitchers like Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz and Max Fried already in the rotation, Bumgarner could be the perfect addition. He likely also won't break the bank, too.

Bumgarner has been considered perhaps the most fascinating free agent on the market this offseason, for many reasons. 

[RELATED: How MadBum's free agency fits into the Giants' rebuild]

Are teams paying for the greatest playoffs pitcher of all time, or are they getting an aging pitcher with declining velocity and a ton of miles on his arm? Bumgarner also led the league this season with 34 games started. He pitched 207 2/3 innings in his first full season since 2016 and struck out 203 batters. But he was terrible on the road, posting a 5.29 ERA, and that could be a concern for teams vying to sign him.

Put Bumgarner in another postseason race, however, and Atlanta could claim a World Series ring for the first time since 1995.

Bumgarner is quite the free agent test case, but if he leaves the Giants, it's easy to see the North Carolina native call Atlanta his new home.

MLB free agency: Analysts predict Madison Bumgarner signs with Braves originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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