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Snake Bytes: Reactions to the D-backs signing Bumgarner

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While there had been rumors, it still came as a surprise

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San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

It gives them rotation depth to trade left-hander Robbie Ray, who is set to make close to $11 million in his final year before free agency. And moving Ray would open up a pair of avenues: One, they could then use the financial savings to plug other holes on the roster – namely, in the outfield – via free agency. And, two, the likely trade return for Ray in the form of prospects could make them more comfortable parting with prospects of their own to acquire an impact bat. Then again, with $15 million of Bumgarner’s contract deferred – which, presumably, makes it a $14 million annual hit for the club’s budget – the team could opt to keep Ray and would still have some $15 million or so to spend should it look to secure outfield help primarily on the open market.
Nick Piecoro, Arizona Republic

There is a lot at stake. The Diamondbacks just handed out a large chunk of money but have significant other needs. Bumgarner’s contract is the largest, by far, that Hazen has ever doled out. Because Bumgarner rejected the qualifying offer, the Diamondbacks will sacrifice their third-highest draft pick. There’s a chance they receive an aging starter with a lot of miles on his arm who already is not the pitcher he was a few years ago, and whose performance may slip further by the time he’s 34. If this one goes right, Hazen will look like a genius. If it goes wrong, it’ll hurt.
Zack Buchanan, The Athletic

While it’s true that Bumgarner is not exactly the pitcher that he was in, say, 2014, he’s only recently turned 30, potentially with plenty in front of him, and has one of baseball’s best track records in terms of durability. (If the fact that Bumgarner had fewer than 130 IP in two of the last three seasons jumps out, so should the reminder that those came from a dirt bike accident and a line drive that broke his pinkie, rather than conventional arm issues.) At his very worst, he’s been just above average, and as a guy who’s never relied primarily on notable velocity, he’s in a decent position to age gracefully. He’s never had an ERA above 4.00 or an ERA+ under 105, and he boosted his spin rate significantly in 2019, which could bode well for future adjustments.
Emma Baccelleri, Sports Illustrated

The obvious downside of the deal is its length, as projecting Bumgarner out five years for his ages 30 to 34 seasons probably would involve a fair amount of lost time to injuries and likely some decline in effectiveness because he depends so much on his fastball and slider -- pitches that require good arm speed. But Arizona is paying him more like a mid-rotation starter, so if the D-backs get three seasons similar to his 2019 campaign, they probably will consider it money well spent. And he does boost their odds of a playoff spot right now, especially since some of his suitors were their direct competitors in the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
Keith Law, ESPN

It’s not that hard to understand why his projection isn’t more sanguine. After being limited to just 17 starts due to an AC joint sprain of his left shoulder — via a dirt bike accident! — in 2017, and then 21 starts due to a fractured metacarpal in ’18, he was back to being his workhorse self in 2019. His 34 starts tied for the major league lead, while his 207.2 innings ranked ninth, but his run prevention was more solid than stellar. His 93 ERA- (on a 3.90 mark) was the highest of his career, though his 93 FIP- was his best mark since 2016. While Bumgarner posted his best strikeout rate (24.15) and strikeout-walk differential (19.0%) since 2016, his home run rate (1.30 per nine) was the second-worst of his career. He chose a bad year to produce a career-high fly ball rate (41.6%) and career-low groundball rate (35.8%), neither of which have any obvious basis in changes to either his repertoire or velocity.
Jay Jaffe, Fangraphs

The Diamondbacks are evidently not so pessimistic about Bumgarner’s future. While his numbers have certainly dipped noticeably from his stellar 2011-2016 span, Bumgarner is still a solid, reliable starter who has churned out 200-plus innings on a yearly basis. In 2019, his 3.90 ERA was the worst mark he’s posted in his career, but his strikeout rate reached its highest point since 2016. His home/road splits have been a noteworthy point of contention for those debating his value; having spent his entire career in the pitcher-friendly confines of Oracle Park, it’s fair to question how well he would fare in a different ballpark. With just a 35.8% groundball rate and a hard-hit rate that ranks in only the 10th percentile, skeptics may project an uptick in home runs outside of San Francisco.
George Miller, MLB Trade Rumors

The move represents the latest for a Diamondbacks rotation that looks nothing like it did a little over a year ago. At the end of the 2018 season, the staff was anchored by veteran Zack Greinke and prepared to watch 11-game winner Patrick Corbin depart via free agency. Zack Godley had made 32 starts that season and Clay Buchholz and Matt Koch made 16 and 14, respectively. Now, Bumgarner will head a rotation that includes Zac Gallen, acquired from the Marlins at July’s trade deadline; Robbie Ray, who may actually be on his way out the door with the Bumgarner signing; and guys like Luke Weaver, Merrill Kelly, Alex Young and Mike Leake, all of whom will vie for starting jobs in spring. Taylor Clarke, Godley and prospect Jon Duplantier could also make their case in spring.
Nathan Grimm, Yahoo Sports

When the news first came down of the D-backs’ interest in Bumgarner, it felt like a present you ask for knowing you’ll never get it. Well Merry Christmas. And Happy Hanukkah. It stood to reason that Bumgarner’s contract would be well beyond the D-backs’ means to afford such a purchase. Whether it was a cool marketplace for his services or his reported love of Arizona, it doesn’t matter now. From the moment his name came up it made so much sense to me. The D-backs’ rotation is deep but not top-heavy. Bumgarner fixes that. And while I worry that by year four of the deal Bumgarner will be overpaid and starting to wear down, what he brings in the short term is worth the trade-off, especially at that cost.
Dave Burns, Arizona Sports