SAN FRANCISCO -- The free-agent market has moved faster than it did a year ago, with Will Smith signing in Atlanta right before the qualifying offer deadline and Yasmani Grandal getting a four-year deal from the White Sox this week. But all has been quiet thus far for the biggest names in the starting pitching market, including Madison Bumgarner.
The longtime Giants ace turned down the qualifying offer as expected and has been the subject of a few rumors, but nothing substantial enough to indicate a deal is close. During an interview on the "TK Show" this week, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he thinks the process will drag out a bit.
"We've at least expressed interest and I think they're going to take their time with this process and obviously Madison has earned the right to free agency and to explore all his options," Zaidi told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. "I think they're going to be pretty methodical with it and we respect that, but we'll maintain contact."
Others have been in contact, particularly during the GM Meetings last week. Here's how Bumgarner's market is shaping up through the first three weeks of his first foray into free agency:
Gabe Kapler said earlier this week that he hasn't spoken to Bumgarner yet, but that's not a big deal. Even when he was employed by the Giants, teammates and friends joked about how hard it was to reach Bumgarner in the offseason.
Bumgarner was curious to see who Bruce Bochy's replacement would be, and it's easy to say the fit with Kapler would be less than ideal. They are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to a lot of how they think about the game, but ultimately Bumgarner just wants to win, so the evaluation process would simply be about how quickly he thinks Kapler could get him back to the postseason.
As I've written a few times already, most people within the building feel that Bumgarner will be playing elsewhere next season. But there's always that chance his market dries up and Bumgarner's best option is to come back to San Francisco.
The connection was there even before Smith signed with the Braves. When he was introduced to the media in Atlanta, Smith was asked about reuniting with Bumgarner.
"I don't know, maybe. We'll see," he told reporters. "That'd be great, especially with the kind of talent he is. But we'll see what they've got."
The Braves had interest in Bumgarner before the deadline, sources have told NBC Sports Bay Area, and they planned to make a push for him in free agency. That's basically the same way they felt about Smith, and they got that done. The Braves remain the cleanest fit if Bumgarner is not wearing orange and black.
Speaking of clean fits, this team isn't it. But, the Yankees have shown some interest.
"I will definitely talk to Bumgarner's agency," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Yankees could use another starter for the postseason and they're relatively close to Bumgarner's offseason home in North Carolina. But, playing in the American League would take the bat out of Bumgarner's hands, which figures to be a bigger deal to him than any other pitcher.
The best case for Bumgarner and his representatives? That would be getting two NL East rivals -- who just watched the Nationals win a World Series -- involved in a bidding war.
The Phillies had interest in Bumgarner in the past and they are at it once again, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
"I was told yesterday that the Phillies are actively interested in Madison Bumgarner... They want someone to soak up innings, quality innings. And they want a lefty. That rotation needs one more veteran, and lefty. Bumgarner could be that choice."pic.twitter.com/YvS8bI3kYn— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) November 22, 2019
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A dark horse, and they're truly fascinating. The Padres looked like an ideal trade deadline destination before their hot start wore off, and Bumgarner did his due diligence about their organization when it appeared he might end up there.
The Padres offer a division he knows, a rotation that needs a workhorse ahead of Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet and all the young starters they have coming through the minors, a ballpark that's often filled with Giants fans and an intriguing roster that should be in the postseason race.
They were connected to Stephen Strasburg earlier in the offseason but Bumgarner would come cheaper, and they have interest:
Padres have interest in Madison Bumgarner and they are going to meet at the GM meetings with MadBum's agent Ed Cerulo. SD has also been connected to Stephen Strasburg.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 14, 2019
The fit is there. Plus, Bumgarner might be reunited with Bochy in a year.
(Kidding! Sort of.)
MLB free agency: What Madison Bumgarner's market looks like early on originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area