After Brian Sabean exercised the Giants’ team option, Madison Bumgarner will make $12 million in 2019, but it remains to be seen which team will pay him that salary. Pablo Sandoval will make $18 million after his option was exercised, but $555,000 of that will come from the Giants and the rest will come from the Red Sox.
The Giants also cleared off their 60-day disabled list, which I talked about a little bit in this post, returning Buster Posey, Sandoval, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Julian Fernandez. The 40-man now stands at 36.
Now that the World Series has ended, teams have about five days to conduct exclusion negotiations with their own free agents, exercise team options, etc. therefore, these are all “expected” moves. We don’t know exactly what’s going on in the Giants’ front office right now, but Brian Sabean’s in there running the ship and getting through the day to day and the nitty gritty of running a baseball team. It is certain he never thought he’d still be there exercising player options, especially on players like Madison Bumgarner and Pablo Sandoval (whom he famously avoided re-signing as a free agent).
We don’t know which of these players will even be on the roster come Opening Day 2019 and it’s hard to figure that either of their spots are 100% secure. In Bumgarner’s case, that’s because of the team’s needs and the modest surplus value on his deal (now very, very modest) — a new GM might simply want to swap one useful player for two. In Pablo’s case, he still has to come back from a hamstring tear and prove in Spring Training once again that he will be a valuable contributor from the bench. We don’t know if a new GM will want to reconfigure the bench or what, but regardless, Pablo Sandoval is a permanent “prove it” player.
We’ll see how Bumgarner’s very reasonable contract plays at next week’s GM meetings and in December at the Winter Meetings and what role Brian Sabean might have in laying the groundwork for future transactions. We still don’t know what the timetable is for the new front office to be put into place, but the longer it stretches into free agency, the more worrisome it becomes.
On the other hand, for a team reticent to blow it all up, there’s some utility in dragging out the process in order to secure the bulk of the Major League roster you might prefer. Still, if we get to a point where Sabean is doing “minor deals” like re-signing Derek Holland and Nick Hundley, it’ll just seem very weird and hard to understand.
For now, the Giants did the sensible thing and exercised their options on two invaluable players. You might quibble with their value relative to the rest of the league, but relative to the Giants, we know it doesn’t get much better these days than Pablo Sandoval and Madison Bumgarner.