When San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner was injured during the team’s off-day this past Thursday, it stirred up memories for many Giants fans and more than likely the Giants’ front office too. Memories of an incident that happened almost exactly 15 years ago.
Both players are/were considered crucial to the Giants’ success and both are/were in the final seasons of their contracts.
Kent missed just the first four games of the season, missing mostly just spring training. He went on to have a great year for San Francisco.
Kent was just two seasons removed from being named the National League MVP, finished his sixth straight season with 100 or more RBI and hit three home runs for the Giants in their 2002 World Series loss.
Still, the incident caused hard feelings on all sides. Kent lied about his broken wrist, saying he broke it while washing his truck, but of course his secret was later discovered.
Kent eventually ended up leaving the team after the season, being unable to negotiate with them. He signed a two-year deal with the Houston Astros instead of signing a long-term contract with the Giants.
Bumgarner’s situation is a bit different. He was honest and remorseful about the behavior and activities that led to his injuries, which is a plus, but how will the accident affect his long-term contract talks with San Francisco?
First, Bumgarner’s contract contains two very cheap team options for 2018 and 2019. Assuming he recovers from his injuries and can pitch at the same level, it would be smart for the Giants to pick up those options.
However, the two sides had been talking about extending his contract beyond those two seasons. He’s looking at a long-term contract worth somewhere well over $200 million, or at least he was, depending on how he pitches upon his return.
If he doesn’t come back strong, the Giants could choose not to pick up his options and would likely take talks of a huge contract off the table. They will likely take them off the table for now anyway in order to see how his recovery goes.
The Giants have been through this before and this is not the kind of incident that is easily forgotten by any team, let alone the Giants.
Technically they could take legal action against their ace but it won’t come to that.
The words regarding dangerous outside activities that are in every MLB player’s contract are dicey in their interpretations and it would create extra, unnecessary friction in the relationship between the team and Bumgarner.
Regardless of what happens regarding Bumgarner’s team options for 2018 and 2019, this accident will likely factor into what happens for him next, whether it be negotiating a long-term deal with the Giants or any other team.
Getting a non-baseball-related injury during the season is a much bigger offense than getting into one at the beginning of spring training.
So, there is definitely a chance that the Giants could decide against keeping the pitcher long-term and it could influence his potential overall value around the league.
For the Giants it will likely be at the forefront of the negotiations, should they occur, and likely in the backs of the minds of other teams around MLB. It seems that Bumgarner’s momentary lack of judgement could potentially haunt him in the future.