In between all of the complaints tossed Brian Sabean's way by Giants fans over the last few years, the Giants' front office continues to demonstrate a certain level of competence, especially when it comes to the pitching staff.
Recently, the Giants locked Madison Bumgarner into a deal that keeps him under team control potentially until 2019. The contract will pay Bumgarner, a potential annual Cy Young candidate, an average of $5 million per year.
For comparison's sake, Tim Lincecum will rake in $63 million from 2010-2013, his last four pre-free-agent seasons. Bumgarner, who could command Lincecum-level money if he keeps pitching the way he has, is set to make a little over $30 million during his last four pre-free-agent years.
Locking in players this early is always a risk. If Bumgarner continues his development into a Tom Glavine clone, the Giants will get away like bandits. In more ways than one. In fact, here are three ripple effects of the Bumgarner deal.
We will save the debate over what Tim Lincecum will be worth in 2014 for another day. It's difficult math determining how the Giants will be able to afford long-term contracts for both Lincecum and Matt Cain.
Lincecum's early career success is nearly unprecedented and barring a meltdown or an injury, he will command top dollars on the free-agent market 18 months from now.
However, there could be cash in the coffers.
Regardless of Bumgarner's success, he now cannot command big arbitration money. Barry Zito also comes off the books after 2013, freeing up another $13 million (assuming the Giants buy him out). This flexibility could conceivably be used to justify a big contract for Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young winner and Giants legend.
Again, Lincecum could be damaged goods by then, which would bring about a whole new debate. Regardless, a big contract for Lincecum becomes more difficult when you consider Ripple Effect No. 2...
Of the 14 position players on the Giants roster currently, 12 of them have not yet reached free agency, Aubrey Huff and Ryan Theriot being the exception.
As of now, only Pablo Sandoval (free agent after 2014) and Buster Posey (2016) are likely to command All-Star-type money on the open market. Could Bumgarner, Posey and Sandoval form the core of a Giants dynasty for the next decade?
Yes, I know decade dynasties are difficult to project. Like trying to predict the 2017 Super Bowl champion. Good luck.
However, with Bumgarner looking like a steal for the next six seasons, the math is more favorable on being able to keep the Giants' other young stars. If other youngsters like Brandon Belt, Gary Brown and Brandon Crawford continue to develop, every extra dollar will help.
Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain are elite starting pitchers. Both should be in the Cy Young conversation by year's end. Both are in or entering their prime. And now both will be San Francisco Giants for at least the next six years.
Right now, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are 35 and 33 years old respectively. In 2017, when Cain's contract is up, Cain and Bumgarner will be 32 and 27. Not since the '90s Braves has a team had such a bright future with their starting pitching staff.