The Diamondbacks shocked the baseball world last week when they signed free agent left-hander Madison Bumgarner, and in doing so stole him away from their division rival San Francisco Giants.
Many were surprised when the news broke that Bumgarner was headed to Arizona, as there had not been any credible rumors that the Diamondbacks were even interested in the former World Series MVP. Yet, they swooped in and secured the services of Bumgarner, and signed him to a five-year, $85 million deal.
This was actually a lower dollar figure than most expected him to earn, with some reporting that he was set to receive north of $100 million in free agency. Bumgarner reportedly had his sights set on ending up in Arizona after his relationship with the Giants seemed to deteriorate in recent years.
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So, why did the Diamondbacks commit so much capital to a thirty-year-old starting pitcher whose best days are likely behind him? For one thing, Bumgarner’s 2019 season was certainly encouraging, given that he had been plagued by injuries throughout the previous two seasons. In ‘19, Bumgarner recorded 207.2 innings pitched and made 34 starts for the Giants, after only making 38 combined starts in ‘17 and ‘18. He also posted 3.2 fWAR in ‘19, his highest total in three years.
The Diamondbacks must feel that Bumgarner’s past injuries were a fluke, and that his most recent campaign will be representative of his performance throughout the duration of his new five-year deal. Arizona should certainly be commended for making a significant move to improve their club, especially when their roster is probably nowhere close to being a World Series contender.
Moreover, this is the kind of move that is simply good for the sport of baseball. A small market team like the Diamondbacks adding a big-ticket free agent in Madison Bumgarner is an example that numerous clubs should follow. While Arizona did not vault themselves into contention by making this move, they undoubtedly made their ballclub better for years to come. More importantly, they spent money in order to do so, which many other small market teams refuse to do (we’re looking at you, Cleveland and Pittsburgh).