Larry Krueger and Giants beat writer Henry Schulman got into a spirited discussion Monday afternoon, on the subject of how the Orange & Black are likely to approach the next few seasons, on the heels of missing the playoffs in consecutive years.
Krueger believes the club will commit to a three or four year rebuild, while Schulman doesn’t think that’s how longtime Giants executive Brian Sabean operates. They also discussed how the Giants will handle the contract of Madison Bumgarner, which is set to expire after next season. Here’s a full transcript of the back-and-forth:
Krueger: “It’s going to be interesting. Do they take a realistic view of 2019, or do they take a ticket-sales view of 2019, wanting (Madison Bumgarner) to front a new rotation? Is he going to be kind of like the sacrificial lamb as far as the marquee guy in the midst of the rebuilding years a la Don Mattingly with the Yankees in the mid-80s? It’ll be interesting. I imagine they’re going to want to consult Bum and ask him what he would like. ‘Do you want to be the big fish on a rebuilding three year, four year deal, or do you want to go somewhere?”
Schulman: “Why do you keep saying that when you know that’s not going to happen Larry?”
K: “What’s that, say what?”
S: “There is not going to be a three or four year rebuilding thing.”
K: “It’s already been two.”
S: “There’s not going to be a two year rebuilding thing. They are going to try and win next year. That’s what they do. And you said ticket sales, I didn’t, but yeah, ticket sales.”
K: “Was this year a rebuilding year? No. But this year in the fan’s eyes was, because they’re not competitive. You can want what you want, but it doesn’t mean that you can…”
S: “Larry, you can dream all you want about this big three or four or two year rebuild…”
K: “They can dream all they want about being competitive in 2019, I can play this game all day.”
S: Alright but you asked me a question Larry, you asked me a question. You asked me a question if they’re going to go to Bum(garner) and ask him how he feels about being the big fish in three or four year rebuild, you can run the tape. It’s not going to be a three or four year rebuild. They’re going to use the $40 million that they’re going to save from (Hunter) Pence and (Andrew) McCutchen, plus the $9 million that the luxury tax is going to go up and they’re going to try and build a winning team next year, and they’re going to try and compete.
“They’re not going to go to Bumgarner and say ‘Do you want to be here for three or four more years.’ They’re going to go to Bumgarner and say ‘We’re going to try to win next year,’ and he’s still a bargain at $12 or $14 million. And if the whole season goes south next year like it did this year, and they get to July 31, you’re going to have Madison Bumgarner available assuming he’s pitching well, you’re going to have Madison Bumgarner available in a pennant race for something on the order of $4 to $5 million, for the rest of the season, and that’ll make him very attractive.”
“You’ve been following the Giants for 20 years, you’ve been following Sabean for 21 years, on what planet do you think they are going to say ‘we’re going to take a step and rebuild’? I don’t see it.”
K: Well they can take any approach they want, but the rest of the National League is going to have a little say on this as well, and the Padres are building a very good team, and the Giants aren’t as good as the other teams in the division. So they can announce they’re going for it, heck we all showed up at FanFest this year Henry and they announced they were going for it. They were never in the race.
“They have an older team with a $200 million payroll and I’m sure there are guys in that ownership room that don’t want it to go to $250. So they can say they want to be competitive next year, but the reality is they’re old, they don’t have a lot to trade, there’s not a deep free agent market, so how are they going to compete? How are they going to be competitive? To me you can say what you want, but the reality is, until their farm system starts to spit out big-time guys, they are going to be in a rebuild, and I think they probably will go to Bumgarner and say, ‘You know what? We’ve got you under contract. Do you want to sign a long-term deal here and be part of this? Or would you rather us go in a different direction?’
“I bet you they will give him that opportunity to express what he wants and what his future is going to entail.”
S: “Yeah I disagree with that, and I’m not disagreeing with you on whether they can be competitive or not last year, I’ll say it’s a long shot. I’ll say two things: One, Brian Sabean has brought this team back from the dead twice. It’s different situations, but he’s brought this team back from the dead twice. The first time he did it in one year, and the second time he did it in two. You can’t say that they’re not going to be competitive forever.
“But I will also say that actually it may not be Bumgarner who they come to. If they decided to go in that direction, which I can’t see in a million years that they will. But if they decide to go in that direction, I think it would be the guys that they have signed longer term, like (Brandon) Crawford specifically, who has a no-trade contract and has I believe three years left after this one. He’s the guy I think they would go to if they did that and say, ‘Look, we love you. You’re the heart of this team, you’re a great defensive player and what not, but we’re going to shoot for 2021 do you want to be part of this? Would you accept a no-trade?’ Bumgarner is a guy with one year left on his contract at $12-14 million. If they have any designs of putting a competitive team on the field next year, I can’t see them trading him.”
Listen to the full interview below. To hear the back and forth, start from 5:35