SAN FRANCISCO — Farhan Zaidi spent 32 minutes on Tuesday talking about his first season with the Giants and his plans for his first full offseason. Many of the questions focused on three topics: The ballpark, the search for a new manager, and the need to hire a general manager.
All three of those issues may be resolved before the Giants get to the one that may be most important to the fan base: What’s going to happen with Madison Bumgarner?
Zaidi expects another long offseason for marquee free agents, and that could include Bumgarner, who is a month from hitting the open market for the first time. The left-hander is excited about seeing what’s out there, but if you’re waiting for the Giants to publicly court him, you’ll be waiting a long time.
Zaidi, as a rule, does not talk about his interest in free agents. Asked about his own players Tuesday, he gave a general answer.
“We have a certain level of interest in bringing all those guys back,” Zaidi said. “We anticipate those guys will want to see what’s out there in free agency. Some of them publicly commented on it, which is their right, and it’s exactly what we’d expect them to do.”
In addition to Bumgarner, Will Smith and Stephen Vogt are scheduled to be free agents. Tony Watson can opt out of the third year of his deal, although he’s believed to be strongly considering a return. With incentives, he could make $7 million next season.
Bumgarner and Smith will be due much more than that, though both could be hampered by qualifying offers. It is a lock that one will be placed on Bumgarner, and the Giants are strongly considering giving one to Smith. They would either recoup a draft pick or get an All-Star closer on a one-year deal worth a bit more than $18 million.
“I will say kind of at the outset of free agency, we have interest in at least having discussions about those guys coming back,” Zaidi said of his free agents.
Asked about Bumgarner, Zaidi noted the “tremendous track record” and the reliability that “every team in baseball could use.” It’s unclear what the market will look like, but the 30-year-old Bumgarner has always been confident that it will be there and be healthy. At the very least, the Atlanta Braves, the closest franchise to Bumgarner’s North Carolina home, figure to give the Giants a run for their money.
With Bumgarner a free agent, the Giants will enter the offseason with Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto atop their rotation and Logan Webb, Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson and Dereck Rodriguez (who will play Winter Ball) filling things out. No matter what happens with Bumgarner, it’s clear some veteran help will be brought in.
“It’s going to be a necessity for us and it’s a priority for us to continue developing our young pitchers” Zaidi said. “But certainly, having veteran pitchers around them is valuable from a competitiveness standpoint and also valuable from a developmental standpoint.”