Dec. 13: There’s mutual interest between Bumgarner and the Dodgers, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. The Dodgers took some time at this week’s Winter Meetings to sit down with Bumgarner’s agents.
Dec. 10: After missing on top pitching target Gerrit Cole, the Dodgers will pursue southpaw Madison Bumgarner, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Whether or not a deal gets done, this represents quite the turn of events for the long-time Giants ace.
MadBum is permanently etched into the history of the San Francisco organization after helping lead the team to three World Series titles — including one in which he more or less personally willed the club to victory. The intra-state rivalry is intense no matter the participants, but Bumgarner was more than your average player in the frequent frays between the teams.
The news is also interesting because of what it says about the Dodgers’ intentions this winter. The club isn’t exactly desperate for rotation pieces but obviously feels it’s an area to add. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is said to be looking at about a dozen key targets, as Pedro Moura of The Athletic reported today (subscription link). It seems that bolstering the starting staff is a significant priority.
Bumgarner’s days as a true front-line starter may be over, evidenced in part by the matching 3.90 ERA/3.90 FIP he posted across an impressive 207 2/3 innings in 2019, but he wouldn’t have to be an ace in Los Angeles. The club already has two front-end types in Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, after all, with Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May among potential complementary pieces. However, the Dodgers are facing an especially notable departure in free agency in the form of lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Now that Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler are no longer free agents, Bumgarner and Ryu look like the top two starters on the market. Bumgarner has age and durability advantages over the soon-to-be 33-year-old Ryu, which may earn the former the larger contract, though the latter has been the better pitcher on a per-inning basis of late. The Dodgers do have interest in re-signing Ryu, but it seems their focus is now on Bumgarner, who has a chance to crack the $100MM mark on his upcoming deal.