The timing of Farhan Zaidi’s hiring by the San Francisco Giants could not be better for an organization that probably needs a clear-eyed examination of its most treasured on-field asset. It would be too much to ask some in the ownership group or front office to wholly separate themselves emotionally from Madison Bumgarner, who played an important role in two championships, in 2010 and 2012, before almost single-handedly carrying the group to a third title in 2014.
Just in case the passing years have muddied your memory of 2014, there are some statistical keepsakes from his work for the Giants that fall. Bumgarner pitched 52 2/3 innings in that postseason, more than twice as many as any other pitcher on any team that October. Nathan Eovaldi earned accolades for extending himself during Boston’s recent championship run, 22 1/3 innings of excellence, and soon he will be paid well for that. Bumgarner threw 31 2/3 innings in the 2014 postseason before tacking on another 21 innings in the World Series — and had a 1.03 ERA in the playoffs and World Series combined.
Bumgarner is 29 years old and entering the final year of a long-term, team-friendly contract, and last summer, teams that asked the Giants about his availability were told flatly: No. Because of legacy, the Giants had no intention of trading him.
But Zaidi doesn’t wear any of the championship rings won by Bumgarner, and he is undoubtedly aware of current metrics that suggest the left-hander is showing signs of regression. Presumably, the team’s new president will be central in any honest conversation about whether the Giants should invest another long-term deal in Bumgarner before he reaches the free-agent market next fall, or whether now is the time to take advantage of his trade value, whatever that is.