Perhaps in the shadow of Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner is still a very hot property on the MLB free agent market. The San Francisco Giants legend has already been linked to a number of teams that desperately need starting pitching to solidify their rotation.
Bumgarner had a fairly solid campaign in 2019, posting a 9-9 record with 3.90 ERA in 34 starts for the 77-85 Giants, but it’s still unknown to some extent how he’ll be valued by potential buyers. Before the 2018 season, after which MadBum would eventually accept a club option for 2019, there was the possibility of $30 million a year, according to Bleacher Report.
Now things stand a little bit different. Bumgarner’s value, driven by the competition on the SP market and his slight decline at the age of 31, has sunk considerably, which would open the door for teams that fall out of the battle for Strasburg and Cole, and also for the Giants to pursue his re-signing, after he formally rejected his qualifying offer on Thursday.
The interest towards him has been more than satisfying already as a few teams have established themselves as favourites for a potential addition of Bumgarner. What are they getting and how that alters the market? Here’re the three teams you’ll hear mentioned in the race for one of 2010s’ best pitchers in Major League Baseball.
San Francisco Giants
What are the chances San Francisco gets MadBum back? According to many sources, these chances are very good indeed, but there’s a catch.
Two weeks ago, Randy Draitz of the Sports Betting Dime listed the Giants’ +200 as the second-best, only after the Atlanta Braves. Furthermore, he predicts SF to upset the reigning NL East champions for Bumgarner because of the belief within the organization that the team can compete in the near future.
The Giants just lost their closer, Will Smith, to the Braves. Despite returning to contending for the wild card, they finished with the 12th-worst starters ERA at 4.77, and Jeff Samardzija is always an inconsistent starting pitcher that counts as a question mark. If Gabe Kepler’s club really wants to have any chance of competing in 2020, free agency starts and finishes with Bumgarner, or any kind of impactful addition at SP for that matter.
Could the Giants’ new general manager Scott Harris have a different approach? That would be the only thing that could keep San Francisco from pushing for Madison Bumgarner until the late stages of free agency.
The Braves’ rotation, while still solid, suffered a step backwards, recording 4.20 ERA. Mike Soroka and Max Fried had breakout rookie seasons, but now that Dallas Keuchel is a free agent and Julio Teheran might see his way out of the organization, Atlanta has listed a rotation spot at the top of their shopping list for the upcoming winter. They’re the odds-on favourites to land Bumgarner, and rightfully so – after last season’s one-year deal for Josh Donaldson, the Braves have proved to be willing to overpay and beyond. The gamble that was Donaldson paid off so the Braves won’t hesitate on this year’s market at all.
With the former AL MVP’s departure, the team has another quite huge hole to fill at third base, which they’ll need to solve as soon as possible in order not to lose negotiations with Bumgarmer and The Legacy Agency which represents him.
The Braves have $84 million to go before they get hit by luxury tax and can afford to pay up to $25 million a year for Bumgarner, which would be considered overpaying, as well as focusing on their biggest target at third base, Mike Moustakas.
The Padres jump out among the favorites to sign two of the offseason’s biggest names just a few months after getting Manny Machado. This time they’re no underdogs to land either Strasburg or Bumgarner.
San Diego has been so active on the rumour mill that the question at this point might as well be “Why not both of them”. Despite signing Machado to a $300-million deal, the then-biggest free-agent contract in North American sports history, the Padres still rank 19th in payroll – we might not have seen the biggest splash they’re capable of, being $110 million short of luxury tax which is not a concern as of currently.
After last year’s farce on the mound, the Padres desperately need an upgrade on the mound. The bright spot was rookie ace Chris Paddack, who posted 3.33 ERA as one of only three pitchers with 140+ innings pitched. The Padres were 18th in starters ERA but a solid offensive core that has both power hitters and the ability to be consistent at the plate, with examples such as Eric Hosmer and Fernando Tatis Jr., proves that the Padres could be among the National League’s most improved teams of the 2020 season.