Bumgarner deal means top LHP off market

December 16th, 2019

After a memorable 11-season run with the Giants that included four straight All-Star appearances and top-10 finishes in NL Cy Young Award voting (2013-16), as well as three World Series titles (2010, '12 and '14) and 2014 Fall Classic MVP honors, is a free agent for the first time. He is tied to Draft-pick compensation if he signs with a new team after being one of 10 players to receive the $17.8 million qualifying offer.

Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 30-year-old left-hander.

D-backs, Bumgarner agree to deal

Dec. 15: Free-agent left-hander Madison Bumgarner agreed to a deal with the D-backs on Sunday, sources told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Steve Gilbert. The deal will reportedly pay Bumgarner $85 million over five years, with $15 million of the money deferred.

Since Bumgarner received a qualifying offer, which he declined, the Giants will receive a comp pick after Competitive Balance Round B in the 2020 Draft. The Diamondbacks forfeit their second-round pick.

The signing leaves Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel as the remaining top free-agent starters on the market, with teams like the Angels and Twins, among others, still reportedly looking to fill pitching voids.

Rival execs expect Phillies to remain 'opportunistic' in Bumgarner market

Dec. 14: After following up last offseason's bonanza by signing Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius, are the Phillies done with their heavy lifting for now? Maybe not.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, rival executives expect the Phillies to remain "opportunistic" when it comes to the markets for Bumgarner and other free-agent starters because of managing partner John Middleton's desire to win.

Even after adding Wheeler, the club's rotation still has some question marks. Jake Arrieta is coming off right elbow surgery and had a 97 ERA+ last season, and Nick Pivetta (84 ERA+) and Vince Velasquez (92 ERA+) were even worse. The Phillies could also use a southpaw to add some balance, as left-handers have made only 51 starts for the team since the beginning of 2016.

The problem for Philadelphia is that there are a number of teams that could be more motivated to meet Bumgarner's contract demands. The 30-year-old reportedly wants a deal similar to Wheeler's (five years, $118 million).

Padres looking at Bumgarner among top remaining pitchers

Dec. 13: The Padres are among teams looking at Bumgarner, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

There were indications that the Padres might not be in on the bigger free agents, Heyman notes, but they are attempting to be competitive in 2020. They steered clear of the two successive record-breaking deals for pitchers given to Stephen Strasburg and then Gerrit Cole, but Bumgarner is likely to be closer to the range of Zack Wheeler's $118 million deal, if not lower.

Petco Park could make a lot of sense for Bumgarner, who has pitched far better at home in the pitcher-friendly Oracle Park in his career compared to the road, especially in 2019. Oracle Park was more pitcher-friendly than Petco Park in 2019, but San Diego's venue is still a pitchers' park.

Will Bumgarner be the next big pitcher to sign?

Dec. 13: Gerrit Cole is joining the Yankees. Zack Wheeler found a new home with the Phillies. Stephen Strasburg returned to the Nationals.

That makes Bumgarner the clear top arm still available on the open market. Given how much the Hot Stove has been burning of late, especially at the just-wrapped Winter Meetings, it's possible the veteran southpaw could sign soon.

In fact, Bumgarner is listed behind only third baseman Josh Donaldson in a rundown of which six major free agents are expected to score deals next, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

The list of suitors for Bumgarner is long, topped by the Dodgers, who are showing serious interest in the longtime ace of their NL West-rival Giants. There is "mutual interest" between both sides, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reported.

Other clubs in the mix? The Twins, Angels, D-backs, White Sox, Reds, Cardinals and Giants, who have expressed a desire recently to re-sign Bumgarner.

First, Rendon -- then … Bumgarner?

Dec. 12: The Angels made a big splash on Wednesday by agreeing to terms with the free-agent market's top position player. And while bringing in Anthony Rendon will help fortify their already elite lineup, the Halos still have glaring voids within their starting rotation, particularly after losing out on Gerrit Cole. 

MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported shortly after the Rendon news broke that the Halos still plan to "add a significant starting pitcher," leading with Bumgarner among possible candidates. Morosi also pointed out Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel as free-agent targets and the Rockies' Jon Gray as a potential trade acquisition. ESPN's Alden Gonzalez echoed Morosi, saying that the Angels "still believe they have the means to afford a starter" like Bumgarner. 

The Angels desperately need starting pitching. Their rotation last season combined for just 3.3 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs, which was by far the worst in the Majors. And its 5.64 ERA was the second worst. The current top of the depth chart is led by Andrew HeaneyJaime Barria and Griffin Canning, who had a 5.27 ERA just among the three of them.

Could Dodgers influence Giants' pursuit of Bumgarner?

Dec. 12: After rumors surfaced linking Bumgarner to the Dodgers, Twitter erupted instantaneously among both fans and media, suggesting that such a union would be almost unthinkable. But given that the Dodgers have the financial bandwidth to sign Bumgarner to the nine-figure deal that he's reportedly seeking, and that they are in the market for starters, maybe it's not so crazy after all. 

However, how might the optics of that union look from the Giants' front office? Not great, suggested some within the San Francisco beat. 

Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area suggested that the club is "well aware" about its disappointing finish to last season and "that those emotions matter." Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle added that, even though president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been allowed free reign to make decisions that are painful for fans, Schulman couldn't envision that the Giants' ownership would allow Bumgarner to sign with the Dodgers "unless their offer is insane."

Nonetheless, the Giants remain in "active talks" with Bumgarner, according to Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic. 

The Dodgers and Bumgarner have, of course, had their differences over the years. Bumgarner never took kindly to former Dodger and current free agent Yasiel Puig, and even with Puig gone from Los Angeles in 2019, that dynamic continued, with Max Muncy famously telling Bumgarner to "go get it out of the ocean" following a homer into San Francisco's McCovey Cove.

But $100 million -- the type of money Bumgarner is reportedly seeking -- has a way of healing hurt feelings. And the Dodgers, still searching for their first World Series championship since 1988, could use Bumgarner's regular-season production -- not to mention his history of postseason heroics.

It remains to be seen whether Los Angeles would actually pay up for its former rival, rather than bringing back Hyun-Jin Ryu or turning to another option on the free-agent or trade market. But in the meantime, fans of both teams will have to prepare for the possibility.

MadBum to the Twin Cities?

Dec. 10: The Twins are heavy bidders for Bumgarner this offseason, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Tuesday.

It's a match that makes sense, but as Heyman points out, Minnesota could face some obstacles in its pursuit. Not only would Bumgarner have to switch to the American League and give up batting (outside of the rare Interleague opportunity), but a North Carolina native who has spent his whole career in California also would have to relocate to the north. (Though San Francisco can get plenty chilly, too).

That might put the Twins at a disadvantage compared to, say, the Dodgers or Angels. Then again, money talks. Meanwhile, Twins brass believes the club's 2019 success, strong coaching staff and clubhouse environment work in their favor, and agent Scott Boras (who does not represent Bumgarner) complimented the Minnesota front office and manager Rocco Baldelli. 

The Twins, who lost out on right-hander Zack Wheeler (Phillies), still need at least one more pitcher for a rotation that already includes José Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda. Bumgarner is not the only option, and Minnesota also is reportedly pursuing fellow lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel. But the three-time World Series champion could be just the guy the franchise needs as it tries to win its first postseason series since 2002.

Bumgarner reportedly seeking $100+ million over five years

Dec. 9: In the wake of Zack Wheeler landing a five-year, $118 million contract from the Phillies, Bumgarner reportedly is looking for a comparable deal.

Teams are being informed that Bumgarner is seeking a five-year pact in excess of $100 million, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. MLB Network insider Joel Sherman has heard something similar, though he noted that Bumgarner isn't expected to get as much as Wheeler.

Per Sherman, the D-backs, Angels and Twins are among the clubs with interest in Bumgarner. Philadelphia, too, could take a look at the left-hander, even after signing Wheeler.

Teams might be wary of giving a five-year deal to a pitcher who has handled such an extensive workload in his career and performed at a somewhat diminished level in recent years. That said, Bumgarner has a much longer track record of success than Wheeler and is just a year older, so his reported asking price isn't all that surprising, especially with so many clubs in need of pitching.

Is Minnesota the most likely destination for Bumgarner?

Dec. 8: Even after re-signing Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda, the Twins still have two rotation openings to address.

The club was involved in the bidding for Zack Wheeler and reportedly offered him $100 million over five years, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic (subscription required), but the right-hander got a five-year, $118 million deal from the Phillies. With Wheeler off the market, Minnesota is expected to focus on others from the second tier of free-agent starting pitchers, including Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Bumgarner to the Twins is one of MLB.com reporter Anthony Castrovince's 11 predictions for the Winter Meetings. However, Hayes puts Ryu slightly ahead of Bumgarner and others at the top of the Twins' wish list.

Ryu had the better season in 2019, but Bumgarner is two years younger and has proven to be far more durable. As a result, Bumgarner could command the longer contract.

"I believe [the Twins] would rather pay Ryu $60 million to $65 million over three years than go five years and $18 million to $20 million per to lock down Bumgarner," Hayes writes.

Feinsand: Cards could join the Bumgarner bidding

Dec. 5: In the wake of a busy Wednesday during which Cole Hamels finalized a one-year contract with the Braves and Zack Wheeler agreed to a five-year, nine-figure deal with the Phillies, it seems likely the run on the market for starting pitchers could continue.

And Bumgarner is the one with the most buzz surrounding him at the moment. So much so, in fact, that it's been speculated he could sign by next week's Winter Meetings.

The 30-year-old lefty has been connected to the Twins, Reds, White Sox and Braves in recent days, and a new team appears to have entered the mix, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand: the Cardinals.

There's more, too, as Feinsand pointed out that Bumgarner is "widely expected to land a deal worth at least $100 million," particularly after the Phillies gave Wheeler $118 million. That in and of itself is news.

Although Bumgarner isn't in the top tier of free-agent starters that belongs to Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, the former Giants pitcher showed he was back to being a durable, consistent arm in 2019. His long history of postseason success as a key piece who helped San Francisco win three championships also is something that contending suitors -- like the Cardinals -- could see as a draw.

Reds interested in Bumgarner

Dec. 4: Once the Reds missed out on Zack Wheeler, it made sense that they might pivot to Bumgarner. And per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, they are in fact interested.

There's a laundry list of potential fits for Bumgarner, but Heyman notes Reds manager David Bell's San Francisco connection -- he was the Giants' vice president of player development before coming to Cincinnati.

The Reds have already landed Mike Moustakas, and adding Bumgarner to a rotation with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer would position them even more strongly to contend in the NL Central in 2020.

Bumgarner's market heating up

Dec. 4: Bumgarner's market was already "looking good," according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required) on Tuesday, and it may only get better after Zack Wheeler agreed to a five-year contract with the Phillies. One executive went as far as predicting Bumgarner would join Wheeler in signing before the Winter Meetings next week, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

The Phillies, Reds and White Sox were the three teams "heaviest" on Wheeler before Philadelphia landed him, per Rosenthal, and the Astros, Rangers, Twins, Blue Jays, Angels, Yankees and Padres also were connected to the right-hander. It's fair to expect at least some of those teams will be in on Bumgarner as well. The Braves remain in the mix for Bumgarner, even after signing Cole Hamels on Wednesday, a source told Rosenthal.

SNY's Andy Martino reports that the White Sox and Twins are among the clubs that have turned their attention to Bumgarner. The Yankees are involved, too, though their level of interest may be below that of Chicago and Minnesota.

The White Sox are clearly motivated to improve their rotation. Sources told Rosenthal that the team's offer to Wheeler was for more money than he ended up getting from the Phillies, but Philadelphia's proximity to New Jersey, where Wheeler's wife is from, was a factor in his decision.

The 30-year-old Bumgarner has a ton of mileage on his odometer, having thrown nearly 2,000 innings (postseason included) at the Major League level. But as Rosenthal notes, Bumgarner had an encouraging jump in four-seam fastball spin rate this past season. In fact, his increase of 324 rpm from 2018 to '19 was the largest in MLB.

"He is very intriguing to a number of clubs, and we know a number of clubs are looking for starting pitching," Rosenthal said Wednesday on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" program.

Braves sign Hamels; still in on Bumgarner?

Dec. 4: The Braves continued their busy offseason Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year, $18 million contract with left-hander Cole Hamels. Since the 2019 season ended, the club has added Hamels, Will Smith and Travis d'Arnaud while re-signing Darren O'Day, Chris Martin, Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal is told by a source that the Hamels move doesn't necessarily take the Braves out of the mix to sign Bumgarner, but it does give Atlanta some protection if the 30-year-old gets too expensive. Bumgarner could be a hot commodity, especially with Zack Wheeler off the market.

Bumgarner is expected to command a multi-year deal and would cost the Braves another Draft pick after he rejected a qualifying offer from the Giants. Atlanta already forfeited its second-highest pick to sign Smith, who also rejected a QO from San Francisco.

The Braves now have four of their five rotation spots covered, with Hamels joining Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz. To fill the fifth spot, Atlanta could look to a lower-cost free agent or turn to its farm system, which has several highly touted pitching prospects.

Addressing third base is now likely the Braves' top priority, and the team could seek a reunion with Josh Donaldson.