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Will Smith chooses Atlanta, Madison Bumgarner chooses free agency

The Giants’ closer is gone and its ace might be next.

MLB: Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Will Smith declined the Giants’ qualifying offer of $17.8 million in 2020 to sign a three-year deal with the Braves for $39 million. Madison Bumgarner also declined the 1-year deal and became a free agent. I have no idea what I expected when the offseason began, but that doesn’t make Smith’s departure and Bumgarner’s pending one feel any less . . . weird.

The Giants had an elite closer for the past two seasons. And they’ve had a near-ace for the better part of the decade. But after today, they’re one step away from losing their two best pitchers from 2019. As mentioned in the Pitcher of the Year post:

Smith was also tied with Justin Verlander for first place in Win Probability Added with 5.6. In other words, his performance in high-leverage situations was as good as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball and helped the Giants, statistically and over the course of a full season, win 6 games.

His 34 saves pushed the team to a 38-16 record in 1-run games and when the game was absolutely on the line he delivered as well as this year’s AL Cy Young Award winner. They were lucky to have him, and now it’s the Braves’ turn to gain that good fortune (they also lose their third-highest pick in the draft).

For Smith, he gets to pitch near his family home and will make at least $40 million over the next three seasons, unless the Braves pick up his fourth-year option to bring the total value of the deal to $52 million (there’s a $1 million buyout on the option year). He also gets to supplant Mark Melancon as a team’s closer once again.

For the Giants, they gain a compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B, which comes after the end of the second round. An overall pick somewhere in the seventies. In this year’s draft, the Dodgers selected RHP Jimmy Lewis 78th overall using the pick they received after the Brewers signed Yasmani Grandal last offseason.

Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner is now a free agent. If the Giants don’t re-sign him, then they’ll get another pick after the second round.

It’s weird to be here in the present moment thinking about how these compensation picks reflect the Giants trading their past for a potential future. I never thought I’d see the Giants win a World Series in my lifetime, but I saw three and now we’re at the garage sale stage of the run where all the cool stuff they accumulated over the years goes away piece by piece and all that’s left — all that matters — are the memories.