Two weeks after handing Matt Cain a five-year, $121.5 million contract extension the Giants have locked up Madison Bumgarner long term as well, signing the 22-year-old left-hander to a five-year deal with team options for 2018 and 2019. According to his agents the contract is worth $35 million in guaranteed money.
In terms of service time Cain and Bumgarner are much different, as Cain would have been eligible for free agency after this season and Bumgarner isn’t even arbitration eligible yet.
San Francisco already had Bumgarner under team control through 2016, so this deal simply pre-pays for his three arbitration seasons and buys out his first year of free agency while giving the Giants an opportunity to keep him off the open market for two additional years. If they exercise both options he won’t be a free agent until 2020, at age 30.
As with any long-term commitment to a 22-year-old pitcher there’s lots of risk involved, but Bumgarner was considered an elite prospect in the minors and has already established himself as one of baseball’s best left-handed starters with a 3.12 ERA and 292/79 K/BB ratio in 337 career innings.
Now that the Giants control Cain through 2018 and Bumgarner through 2019 they may not feel as much pressure to break the bank for Tim Lincecum, who has another year and $22 million left on his deal, although certainly no amount of top-notch young rotation depth makes losing a two-time Cy Young winner to free agency before age 30 any easier.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”