Madison Bumgarner had no intentions of waiting for free agency.
The quiet left-hander with a loud fastball and a dominating presence on the mound has risen rapidly through the ranks for the San Francisco Giants. No reason to put off a pay raise, either.
Bumgarner and the Giants agreed to a new $35.56 million, six-year contract through the 2017 season Monday, locking up the lefty through arbitration and his first year of free agency.
”Now I can go out there and just pitch,” he said. ”It kind of took the weight off my shoulders.”
The deal includes $560,000 in base salary this season, $35 million in new money over the next five years and $12 million options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The options can escalate to $14 million if he finishes in the top three for the NL Cy Young Award or $16 million if he wins the honor, said his agent, Tom Little.
The move keeps San Francisco’s top three starters — Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Bumgarner — under contract at least through next season.
”We’ve made no secret of our strategy. Our strategy is to lock up as many homegrown players as we can,” Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said. ”It doesn’t mean we’re going to be able to lock up every homegrown player.”
San Francisco is off to a solid start.
The 22-year-old Bumgarner, squeezed between Lincecum and Cain in the rotation, helped form the starting pitching trio that carried the Giants to the 2010 World Series title. He has a 3.12 ERA and a 21-20 record in three-plus seasons in San Francisco and is still polishing his pitches.
The move was the latest step toward management’s offseason goal to keep the star pitchers together beyond this season.
Lincecum, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, agreed to a $40.5 million, two-year contract in late January. And Cain signed a $127.5 million, six-year contract — the largest deal for a right-handed pitcher in baseball history — earlier this month.
Giants vice present of baseball operations Bobby Evans said the team also spoke with representatives for Lincecum and star catcher Buster Posey earlier in the day to reaffirm the franchise’s commitment to signing long-term deals with both. However, he doesn’t expect anything to get done during the season, as is the case in most years.
”We see the future in both those guys, too,” Evans said, ”and it’s important to us to make sure they know that.”
Bumgarner has been an important cog.
The Giants drafted the lefty 10th overall in 2007, and it didn’t take long for him to make a splash. At 20 years and 38 days old, Bumgarner became the franchise’s youngest pitcher to start a game in his major league debut since the Giants moved from New York in 1958.
A year later, he became the fifth-youngest pitcher to start a World Series game and fourth-youngest to win one at just 21 years and 91 days old when San Francisco beat Texas for the city’s first championship.
”It’s hard to believe he’s 22 years old,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ”To have two-fifths of our rotation tied up (long term), that’s always a good thing. We always talk about special talent throwing a baseball, but his makeup is off the charts.”
Bumgarner is on his way to making San Francisco special.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder finished 11th in the NL last year with a 3.21 ERA and reached the 200-inning mark for the first time in his career. Bumgarner struck out 191 and walked 46 last season.
His 8.40 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011 also was the third-best ratio among all NL left-handed pitchers behind Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw (9.57) and Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee (9.21) — both previous Cy Young Award winners.
Bumgarner is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in his first two starts this year. Fittingly, his next outing comes against Philadelphia on Tuesday night opposite right-hander Joe Blanton, a member of what many consider to be baseball’s best rotation, which includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
”Who knows how good we can be?” Bumgarner said. ”I think we can be just as good, if not better.”