The Giants and Madison Bumgarner confront an awkward reality: It all had to end

The Arizona D'backs signed Madison Bumgarner to a five-year, $85 million deal, officially bringing an end to his tenure with the SF Giants

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 29: San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) waves to the crowd after lining out to third against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 24: San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) warms up with catcher Buster Posey (28) before their MLB game against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 29: San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

  • OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 23: San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) adjusts his glove after Oakland Athletics’ Mark Canha (20) hit a solo hime run in the second inning of a MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2019. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 24: San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) walks off the field after the last out against the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning of a MLB game at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 29: San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy hugs San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) during a postgame ceremony honoring San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

  • San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) throws a pitch versus the Oakland Athletics at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019.(Randy Vazquez/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 24: San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) looks away from the dugout after he ended pitching in the seventh inning of a MLB game at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 29: San Francisco Giants Madison Bumgarner (40) prepares to bat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 24: San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) throws the first pitch against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a MLB game at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

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For most of the marriage between Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants, it appeared the union had a chance to last forever.

Bumgarner was drafted 10th overall by the Giants in 2007, burst onto the major league scene as a reliable 20-year-old starter during the 2010 title run and put the franchise on his back as he almost single-handedly willed San Francisco to the finish line in a historic 2014 World Series.

But by the end of Bumgarner’s 10th season in the Giants’ rotation, both parties quietly acknowledged that a split was practically inevitable.

The all-too-reasonable five-year, $85 million deal Bumgarner reportedly agreed to with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday made clear that the two sides were destined to grow apart.

The Giants are not short on funds and could have easily matched or bested the D’backs offer.

Instead of choosing to extend the partnership, the Giants opted to let one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history ride off into the desert.

It all makes for an awkward reality.

Bumgarner could have been a Giant forever. At times during his career, the Giants have attempted to ensure he would. Instead, the left-hander will spend the next five years making thrice-annual trips to Oracle Park, attempting to beat the only team he’s ever known.

At this point in time, Bumgarner has dreams of spending what he still believes are the prime years of his career pushing for another championship or two. After years of unsuccessfully trying to keep a title window open, the Giants finally admitted it was best to transition into a rebuilding phase.

When Bumgarner became a free agent this offseason, the sturdy southpaw and the Giants each had their own desires. Those desires clearly didn’t align.

As recently as the spring of 2018, a world in which Bumgarner wore a different uniform appeared inconceivable to members of the Giants’ front office. Now, an executive team filled with faces that remain largely unfamiliar to long-time Giants fans has elected to move on.

As Opening Day, 2018 approached, the Giants were preparing to present Bumgarner with a long-term extension that would have kept the pitcher in the team’s rotation into his mid-30s. It marked the second time in as many years the franchise was contemplating building upon the long-term commitment the Giants and Bumgarner made to each other when he signed an extension in April, 2012.

The first time the Giants planned to approach Bumgarner came in April, 2017, when the pitcher wanted to know how the organization felt about his future. A career-altering dirt-bike accident forced the franchise to reconsider.

Madison Bumgarner is headed to the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

After Bumgarner broke the team’s trust and separated his shoulder in his off-day accident in Colorado, the determination he displayed during his rehab and his desire to return to the mound ahead of schedule amidst a miserable season made another lasting impression on the organization.

Upon his return from injury, Bumgarner made 13 starts and posted a 3.43 ERA after his return to the mound, finishing his season with 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a dominant win over the playoff-bound Los Angeles Dodgers.

After the dust settled and the Giants gained clarity on their payroll entering the 2018 season, they figured that locking up the team’s ace was still a sure bet.

A line drive off the bat of Kansas City Royals infielder Whit Merrifield changed everything.

In his final spring training start, Bumgarner took a direct shot to his pitching hand from a ball batted by Merrifield that resulted in a fracture that cost him two months of the season.

A second consecutive season featuring a significant injury coupled with the Giants’ extended run of losing prevented the two sides from reopening discussions about an extension. It may not have crossed the minds of Giants’ executives when Bumgarner hit the 60-day injured list in March, 2018, but it soon became clear that Bumgarner would eventually reach free agency.

At the beginning of the 2019 season, it became increasingly apparent Bumgarner was ready to test the waters. The Giants’ ace wasn’t deterred by another slow-moving offseason as he took note of the six-year, $140 million contract Patrick Corbin signed with the Nationals in early December.

As the Giants embarked on their third straight losing season, Bumgarner became eager to see how other teams viewed him as a free agent.

Over the last several weeks, Bumgarner has had a chance to survey the market. The industry does not see him as the frontline starter that many fans still believe he is. He will earn less than 50 percent of what new Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will make annually and he will make half of what Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg will take in over the next five years.

Other teams don’t even value him to the level the industry sees right-hander Zack Wheeler, either. Wheeler, the pitcher the Giants selected with their first round pick in 2009, will earn $33 million more than Bumgarner over the next five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Bumgarner may not say so, but that will motivate him. The pitcher took issue with anyone who hinted he might be past his prime and consistently expressed a self-confidence that he can still guide a team to the promised land.

The Giants are not a team that will be there soon.

In 2020, they want to audition young talent, they want to emphasize player development and they want to create a sustainable, successful blueprint that will eventually allow them to challenge for division titles on an annual basis.

If they achieve their goals, it will be another ace leading their next playoff push. And so a partnership that was once built to last forever has now come to an end.

It’s awkward, but it’s reality.

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