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2022 Diamondbacks Reviews, #50: Madison Bumgarner

Worst signing in team history? You be the judge...

A long exposure shot of Madison Bumgarner throwing a pitch, with the streaky motion that such a shot features. Honestly, looks a lot like the fever dream Hazen must have had when he decided this signing was a good idea Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Vote Breakdown

A graph, showing the break down of the 54 votes cast for Madison Bumgarner. They are almost perfectly distributed between 1, 2, and 3, with a couple fours, but one, gracious person voted him as a five


  • Rating: 2.31
  • 2022 stats: 7-15, 30 GS, 4.88 ERA/82 ERA+, 1.44 WHIP, -0.8 bWAR
  • Date of birth: August 1st, 1989
  • 2022 salary: $23,000,000
  • 2023 status: Under contract through 2024, with $37 million owed.

2022 In Review

What can you buy for $23,000,000? Well...

  • Twenty 79 foot Yachts
  • Three Honus Wagner baseball cards
  • 16,475 round trips from Phoenix to London with a one night stay at the Savoy Hotel and dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill
  • 2.7 million Churro Dogs
  • 1 pitcher who’s ERA would be the fourth worst among qualifying pitchers except for the fact he didn’t qualify

Madison Bumgarner was bad this season. I had the “privilege” of getting to preview a good number of his starts this season, and based off the wholly unscientific statistic of “how much did I dread writing those paragraphs,” no Diamondback pitcher has had a worse season in recent memory. A more scientific statistic: Carson Kelly provided more WAR to the team... as a pitcher.

As I said, the season started off successfully enough. Bumgarner didn’t give up more than two earned runs in a start until May 10th. At that point, the ERA was a sterling 1.50. However, his FIP was a brutal 4.69. While pitchers do occasionally outperform their FIP, at no point in the history of the game has a pitcher been that much better over the course of a season. It was inevitable that his ERA would move towards that 4.69 number, and from May 10th onwards, it made that slow steady march through the month of July. Over that stretch of time his ERA went from 1.50 to 3.83 on July 29th.

From that point to the end of the season, the wheels just completely fell off an already rickety cart. He had nine more starts the rest of the season. Of those starts, only two of them did he give up less than four runs. Only two starts did not feature a home run. His ERA? An incredible 7.26.

His last start of the season was a six inning, one run game against the Dodgers. After that start, Torey Lovullo, with Bumgarner’s consent, chose to make that the end of his season, despite being scheduled for at least one more start. At the time Lovullo said that there were two reasons behind his decision. The first being to get more innings for the young pitching prospects that the team wanted to get an extended look at. The second was to end Bumgarner’s season on a high note. God knows there weren’t many of them in the second half.

By nearly any metric, this was Bumgarner’s worst season in the Majors, excluding 2020 which shouldn’t be held against anyone. He set career highs in losses, WHIP, and ERA. It was his least valuable season by WAR. He also made more this season than he has in any season so far in his career and is making a strong case for worst free agent signing in the history of the Diamondbacks.

2023 Outlook

The Diamondbacks are over it. Reports indicate that they are actively hoping to trade Bumgarner before the end of Spring Training, despite the fact that they would likely need to eat most, if not all, of his salary to get someone to take him off their hands. As Jack Sommers breaks down in this article, though, their options for making that trade happen are limited and might require giving up a prospect if we wanted to have any real savings.

If a trade doesn’t materialize, one has to wonder how long the team let’s him continue like this. We have a good number of pitching prospects that need time in the majors, and if he continues to pitch the way he has been, he is doing nothing more than blocking their progress. As difficult as it would be to just walk away from such a huge signing, it might very well be the correct choice. Personally, I wouldn’t bet on Bumgarner wearing the Sedona Red past the All-Star Break next season.