Posted on December 15, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
After spending over a decade with the San Francisco Giants, Madison Bumgarner has a new home. However, he won’t be leaving the comforts of the NL West. Sunday evening, Bumgarner reached an agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks on a five-year deal worth $85 million. Bumgarner’s new contract comes with a limited no-trade clause and $15 million in deferred payments.
The 30-year-old Bumgarner hit the open market for the first time this winter after spending parts of 11 seasons with the Giants, making his debut in 2009. He wasn’t considered one of the elite starters on the market on the same level as Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, as would have been the case a few years ago. However, Bumgarner was part of the second-tier of starting pitchers available in free agency this winter, and he has found a contract that reflects that.
Injuries during the 2017 and 2018 seasons have knocked Bumgarner from the ranks of the elite starters in baseball. But he enjoyed a nice bounce-back season in 2019, going 9-9 with a 3.90 ERA over 34 starts. The lefty has made at least 31 starts in seven of the last nine years, showcasing great durability. More importantly, Bumgarner posted an ERA under 3.00 in four of those seasons. There’s also his impressive postseason resume. Bumgarner had a hand in San Francisco’s three World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014. He also won both NLCS and World Series MVP honors in 2014, almost single-handedly carrying the Giants to a championship.
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The Diamondbacks probably aren’t going to be getting Bumgarner at his best. On the wrong side of 30, it’ll be hard for him to replicate the numbers he put up earlier in his career. However, last year showed that Bumgarner still has a lot left in the tank. He remains a frontline starter who can be one of the leaders of a major league rotation.
With Arizona adding Bumgarner, it’s possible they will now look to trade Robbie Ray, who has long been the topic of rumors. Now that Bumgarner is off the board, most of the top pitchers on the free-agent market have been signed. If the Diamondbacks make Ray available, he could garner interest from several teams, giving Arizona a nice return.
Otherwise, Bumgarner and Ray will give the Diamondbacks two top-flight lefties pitching at the top of their rotation. Veterans Mike Leake and Merrill Kelly are also likely to be part of Arizona’s rotation. The Diamondbacks also have a slew of young pitchers who showed promise last season and will be competing for the last spot or two in the rotation during spring training. That group includes Luke Weaver, Zac Gallen, and Alex Young, among others.
While Arizona might have been able to survive without him given their collection of young pitching talent, signing Bumgarner is a smart and aggressive move by the Diamondbacks. They’re not getting an ace, but they’re getting a proven starter and a winner who can help serve as a mentor for their young starters. Moreover, the Diamondbacks prevent him from signing with a competitor in their division. They also give themselves the flexibility to use Ray or another starter as a trade chip. As always, only time will tell if this move will work out, but there’s every chance the Diamondbacks will be reaping the benefits of signing Bumgarner for years to come.