Madison Bumgarner Free Agent Preview: Say Bay-Bye?

Photo Credit to NBC Sports

Finally coming off a healthy season, Madison Bumgarner is hitting the free agent market entering his age-30 season and looking at his first big payday.  After signing an extension early in his career, Bumgarner will likely double his career earnings in the next 3 years. With career earnings of around $57.5M in his first 10 years in the league, estimates have him pegged for over $20M per year on his next deal.  After two injury-plagued seasons, MadBum went on to lead the MLB with 34 games started in 2019 and over 200 innings. Despite a very solid season, he will likely have to wait on Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole to sign before his market fully takes shape. Let us take a look into his upcoming free agency.

His 2019:

  • 2.8 WAR
  • 207.2 Innings Pitched
  • 9-9, 3.90 ERA, 3.90 FIP, 1.13 WHIP
  • 8.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 
    • Career averages of 8.7 , 2.1 respectively
  • 2019 Home/Road Splits
    • Home: 6-2, 2.93 ERA in 122.2 IP
    • Road: 3-7, 5.29 ERA in 85 IP

His Case:

Credit to ESPN Stats & Info Twitter

Let us take a look at the case for Madison Bumgarner entering free agency in 2019.  Bumgarner was one of the best pitchers in baseball from 2013-2016 (before a couple injury-plagued seasons) and has one of the most dominant postseasons in MLB history on his resume.  Unfortunately, he has some big negatives that may ultimately cost him in free agency.

  1. Injury history
  2. Draft pick compensation
  3. Home/Road Splits

Free Agent Comparisons:

The best free agent comps of recent memory are below.  All are encompassing his age, injury history, prior accolades, and/or a couple years removed from their “peak”.

Suitors:

1. Atlanta Braves

The Braves have mentioned numerous times that their rotation was a point of emphasis this offseason.  While they are likely not in pursuit of Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, they could line up with MadBum.  A proven front-line starter to pair with some of their young arms, would serve them well for another postseason run.  It doesn’t hurt that Bumgarner lives close to Georgia and would like to be close by. However, is he willing to forego the most money to do so?

2. Minnesota Twins

The Twins don’t have much depth in the rotation beyond Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, and will be looking at arms this offseason.  Minnesota is pretty light on commitments moving forward and would welcome the vet to the rotation. The question will be is there mutual interest in pitching in MIN and will the Twins offer the money/years to come to terms.  Past history leans toward them falling short in this sweepstakes. They seem more likely to enter the next tier of starters (Tanner Roark or Dallas Keuchel?), or trade for one if prices skyrocket.

3. Texas Rangers

Moving into a new ballpark in 2020, it is very apparent that Texas is looking to spend, and possibly spend big. If the season began today, Texas has Lance Lynn, Mike Minor, and Kolby Allard as their starters.  The rotation will see some additions one way or another. If Texas can offer the right deal, they could get a proven starter to lead the team back into contention.

4. San Francisco Giants

The Giants attached a qualifying offer to Madison Bumgarner and could wait it out to get him.  With the decline in his stats and potentially a “Keuchel” situation brewing, the Giants could work out a one year deal with him. Doing so would be a bet on himself, but allow him to reach a true free agency in 2020. With his history and familiarity in the Bay, there are a couple routes the Giants could take to bring back their playoff hero.

5. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are looking for rotation pieces to put behind their ace Aaron Nola. With question marks surrounding Jake Arrieta’s health (an upcoming free agent), they could turn to Bumgarner.  Having already been mentioned in the Cole, Strasburg, and Zack Wheeler conversation, they will likely kick the tires here if the prices are too high on the others.

My Prediction:

4 years / $84M to sign with the Texas Rangers


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