Getty Images

Madison Bumgarner deserves a contract extension. He’s not getting it.

18 Comments

Madison Bumgarner is an ace on a Hall of Fame trajectory. He is also, perhaps, the most underpaid player in the game. He’s making $11.5 million this year. He’s on $12 million team options for 2018 and 2019. This despite being a huge reasons the Giants have won three World Series titles since 2010.

Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports that both the Giants and Madison Bumgarner would like to get a contract extension sorted out for the ace. Yesterday, however, Bumgarner told reporters that he’s had no recent contract negotiations with the Giants. What gives?

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement mostly. As Buster Olney noted today, the Giants — and every other team — is treating the new, barely-growing luxury tax threshold as a defacto salary cap:

The luxury tax threshold was raised only slightly in the first years of the new deal, to $195 million this year, $197 million in 2018 and then $206 million, $208 million and $210 million in 2019-2021. There is a lot of indication since the agreement went into place that some teams are treating those thresholds as a salary cap, and the Giants are bumping against it . . . Because of how contracts are counted under the new CBA, with the average of each multi-year deal standing as the number used for luxury-tax purposes, the Giants can’t simply backload an extension to guarantee Bumgarner that he eventually be compensated.

Baseball teams have, for years, sought to cap player salaries, but never knew how to do it without illegally coordinating things. Tony Clark and the MLBPA gave teams a nice fat bogey to shoot for and a means of accomplishing it that eliminated the need to collude.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
2 Comments

United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

Harry How/Getty Images
6 Comments

The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.