Madison Bumgarner became the latest free agent pitcher to leave the open market, agreeing to a five-year, $85MM deal with the Diamondbacks on Sunday. While reports from earlier this week suggested that Arizona was in the mix, it still raised a lot of eyebrows to see the D’Backs (who weren’t considered likely to either make a big free agent signing or pursue a big-ticket pitcher) wind up as Bumgarner’s new destination. Here’s more on the signing…
- The Diamondbacks were Bumgarner’s top choice in free agency “provided they could pay him at an appropriate level,” The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) hears from a source close to the left-hander. The $85MM guarantee was enough to get it done, though $15MM of the money is deferred. While it wasn’t quite the five-year/$100MM commitment Bumgarner and his camp were reportedly hoping to land, it could be that the D’Backs came close enough, or — as Rosenthal speculates — perhaps no team was willing to go to nine figures for Bumgarner’s services.
- Rosenthal and his fellow scribes at The Athletic discussed the Bumgarner signing in a roundtable, with Andrew Baggarly noting that new Giants manager Gabe Kapler hadn’t yet spoken with the southpaw as of the Winter Meetings. In Baggarly’s view, that was the sign that Bumgarner wasn’t returning to San Francisco. “If the Giants had legitimate interest, and believed they had a legitimate chance, you can bet that calls and meetings would’ve been set up. Kapler would have begun the back-channeling before he even got the job,” Baggarly writes.
- A counter-argument of sorts is provided by Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links), who reports that the Giants offered Bumgarner a four-year contract in the range of $17MM per year in average annual value. “One of [Bumgarner’s] confidants” believes the lefty would have re-signed with the Giants had they offered him the same deal as Arizona, Schulman writes, except the fifth year might have been enough to pull the D’Backs of San Francisco and perhaps other suitors. Indeed, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) reports that the Twins were also unwilling to give Bumgarner a fifth year.
- The fact that Bumgarner went to something of a mystery team creates even more of a crunch for teams who were known to be more fervently pursuing rotation help. Ironically, the team that could benefit from this crunch could be the D’Backs themselves. As The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan puts it, “the Diamondbacks may have just created the starting pitching scarcity they need to trade Robbie Ray for his best value.” There has been wide speculation that Ray could be dealt this offseason, as Ray is entering the final year of his contract and is projected to earn $10.8MM in his last year of arbitration eligibility. With Bumgarner now in the fold, the D’Backs could feel enough comfort in their rotation to move Ray and both address other needs while getting his salary off the books at the same time.
- As a final coda on Bumgarner’s tenure with the Giants, Kerry Crowley of the Bay Area News Group notes that Bumgarner might not have reached free agency if it weren’t for a pair of injuries — Bumgarner’s infamous dirt biking accident in April 2017, and then the fractured hand suffered on his last Spring Training outing in 2018. In both instances, the Giants were on the verge of broaching extension talks with their longtime ace.