There’s no way it could actually happen, right?
For the last decade, there hasn’t been a player despised by a fan base more in baseball than Madison Bumgarner. To simply put it, he’s not liked by Dodgers fans. With all of his interactions with Yasiel Puig, to his infamous feud with Max Muncy last season, he’s been involved with his fair share of drama with LA.
He’s also been pretty good against the Dodgers, so that doesn’t help. In 35 career starts against them, he’s won 15, posting a 2.72 ERA and 1.087 WHIP.
With Bumgarner being a free-agent, is there a chance he could find himself joining the franchise he’s butted heads with for the last 10 years? According to Ken Rosenthal, it can happen.
#Dodgers will now shift their focus to free-agent left-hander Madison Bumgarner, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2019
Additionally, other outlets have reported there is mutual interest between Bumgarner and the Dodgers, and that they even met during the winter meetings. When making an appearance on MLB Network, Rosenthal said that Bumgarner doesn’t care what uniform he puts on in 2020, as long as he’s in a prime position to win.
If the Dodgers fail to re-sign Hyun-Jin Ryu this offseason, signing Bumgarner would make a lot of sense to help fill out that rotation. Though by his standards he had a down year in 2019, he still had an above-average season for a starting pitcher.
He made 34 starts for the second time in his career, and led the majors in starts as well. He struck out over 200 for only the fourth time in his career, and for the first time since 2016. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 4.72, the fourth best of his career.
By no means is he the Bumgarner of old. He’s not the dominant starter he was years back. However, he’s still an above average starter, who’s still only 30 years old.
Though both sides appear to have mutual interest, it’s tough to see a deal coming to fruition anytime soon. As we’ve seen, the Dodgers are “hesitant” when it comes to spending a lot of money, especially on free-agents. It’s been rumored that Bumgarner is expecting a contract north of $100 million, and at least five years. By no means is that an awful contract, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team give him that... but I don’t see how it can be the Dodgers. It’s hard to imagine them pulling the trigger on a deal worth as many as five years, especially worth more than $100 million.
As we’ve seen, Bumgarner is a competitor, and it’s clear he wants to win. He wants to pitch in the postseason, and is probably dying to pitch again in the World Series. The Dodgers give him the best chance to do that.
Though he’s been in the league for over a decade, he’s never gotten his huge payday. The largest contract of his career came back in 2015 when he signed a five-year extension worth $35 million. If he has a chance to cash in on $100 million, who can blame him?
I genuinely think the Dodgers would like to bring him in. I think he’d be a good signing. A lot of Dodgers fans are against it, and rightfully so. But he’s a pitcher that would fit in very well in the middle of the rotation, especially if the Dodgers go out and make some other moves. For example, let’s say the Dodgers go out and acquire another starter, maybe Mike Clevinger. All of a sudden, Bumgarner is likely your No. 4 starter. If that’s the case, is there a better No. 4 starter in baseball? I don’t think so.
A Bumgarner signing already has the backing from another competitor, and potentially a future teammate in Clayton Kershaw. “I love Bum. Great pitcher. Good dude. Great competitor,” Kershaw said to the LA Times. “If I was able to play with Mad Bum, it’d be great. He’s great.”
I’m fully on board. I’ve always liked Bumgarner’s game, and I think he would be a great addition to the starting rotation. Not to mention, he would be crucial come October. He’s arguably one of the best postseason pitchers of all-time, and gave us one of the better World Series performances we’ve ever seen.
In 16 career postseason games, Bumgarner is 8-3, with his team going 13-3 in his outings. He has an ERA of 2.11 while holding opponents to a .201 average. Even more astonishing, he’s allowed only one run in 36 World Series innings. Not only are you getting a really good starter for the regular season, you’re getting a dominant one for the postseason.
Again, I know Dodgers fans will be mixed over potentially signing him, which makes sense. However, that can’t distract from the fact he’s still a really good starter. Aside from Ryu, he’s probably the best one available.
Maybe the Dodgers can work with him on a shorter deal worth more money, or maybe he will bring his price down in order to sign with a contender. We’ll just have to wait and see how the free-agent market pans out.