The Giants will try to re-sign Madison Bumgarner if they can, but it's going to be costly.
While the three-time World Series champion isn't the same pitcher he used to be, Bumgarner will have no shortage of suitors on a free-agent market that includes some high-profile names.
And while Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg are stealing the headlines and expected to receive the largest paydays, Bumgarner exists as the "most fascinating" free agent outside of those three, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
"Madison Bumgarner has been so good for so long, it's easy to lose appreciation of what he has been and what he might become," Passan wrote. "In a lot of ways, Bumgarner's career numbers mirror those of another left-hander who signed a long-term deal before his age-30 season: Jon Lester.
"Bumgarner comes with more mileage than Lester and didn't have nearly the same walk season, but the stuff itself is very similar. Lester's fastball velocity going into free agency: 91.8 mph. Bumgarner's last season: 91.4 mph. Lester's cutter: 87.8 mph. Bumgarner's slider: 87.3 mph. Both throw a looping curveball and a changeup too."
Lester signed a six-year, $155 million contract with the Cubs after the 2014 season. While Passan doesn't necessarily expect Bumgarner to receive an identical offer, he rejects the notion that MadBum has precipitously fallen off.
"The idea that Bumgarner is some diminished version of himself is ludicrous," Passan continued. "His 207 2/3 innings last season illustrate that, as do his 203 strikeouts and nearly 5-to-1 walk rate. All that from the best pitcher in World Series history? That should play."
MLB Trade Rumors predicts Bumgarner will sign for substantially less than Lester did. However, it only takes one team, and that still could be San Francisco.
Why Giants' Madison Bumgarner is 'most fascinating' in MLB free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area