Giants lock up Madison Bumgarner with long-term deal

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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.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.