A flurry of reports over the past 24 hours have indicated the Diamondbacks may be interested in long-term San Francisco Giant, now a free-agent, Madison Bumgarner. This seems to have started with Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who wrote, “The Diamondbacks have quietly looked into the 30-year-old Bumgarner.” Of course, Arizona are far from the only ones. With Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler now off the board, Bumgarner probably ranks as the #2 starting pitcher available, behind Gerrit Cole. And he’s not going to be cheap, especially given the eye-popping contracts signed of late by both Strasburg and Wheeler.
MadBum is reportedly after a five-year contract worth $100 million. That’s both longer and more expensive than the MLB Trade Rumors estimate, of four years and $72m. Three years ago, he might have got what he wanted. For from 2013-16, there were few more reliable or better pitchers in baseball: he put up 17.9 bWAR, seventh most in the majors. But a decline now appears on, with Bumgarner only worth 2.4 and 2.5 wins the past two years. He is still a relatively young free agent, turning thirty in August. However, for comparison, Zack Greinke put up 4.4 bWAR in his age 30 season, then was Cy Young runner-up the following season. Bumgarner hasn’t been mentioned on a CY ballot for three years.
It seems his best days are behind him, but that aside, there could be a fit here. Andrew Baggarly mentions that if Arizona are interested, “Phoenix would be a very desirable landing spot for Bum. He has horses there. Loves the area.” Well, that’s nice. But I vaguely recall the last horse-related free-agent deal we signed didn’t go too well. Troy Glaus’s $45 million contract with the Diamondbacks included $250,000 each year for his wife’s horse equipment and training. That’s an awful lot of sugar lumps. And given Bumgarner’s history with dirt-bikes, I’d be a bit concerned about him coming anywhere near what is basically the organic version of them. At least bikes don’t bite.
It’s probably moot. Jon Heyman says that, while the team did make an offer to Madison, it “Was seen as light. Not sure how involved they are now.” A pursuit of the pitcher would seem a little odd: having just got out from under a large starting pitching contract for Greinke, would they go right back into a similar, if slightly lighter, edition of the same thing? If they’re going to do that (or something similar), it may well require a trade of Ray and his expected $10.8 million arbitration salary, to free up room. While the current budget could just about afford $20m per year for Bumgarner, there are other, arguably more pressing needs for the team on which to spend the money, most obviously the outfield.
Speaking of which, the other rumor of the day has Nick Piecoro reporting that the Diamondbacks have been inquiring with the Mariners and Rangers respectively, about outfielders Mitch Haniger and Nomar Mazara. Of course, the former has been a D-back once before, being sent to Seattle as part of the trade which netted the D-backs Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker. With three and two years of control respectively, Haniger and Mazura would offer a nice bridge while the Diamondbacks wait for their top prospects like Kristian Robinson, Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll - none of whom have yet played above High-A - to mature and develop. But neither trade candidate would come cheaply...