Photo credit: talkingchop.com
By Amaury Pi-Gonzalez
Madison Bumgarner has won three World Series and is arguably one (if not the best) postseason pitcher in history. The Giants made a $17.8 million qualifying offer to the free agent, which guaranteed a draft pick compensation for the Giants, a team seriously in need of younger players. It is very doubtful the Giants will win the World Series in 2020. There are two young teams looking for that extra puzzle piece to make it over the hump. Two teams that won their divisions but fell way-short of going deep into the postseason. Two teams that could use a guy like him.
The Braves won the East in the National League with a 97-65 record, four games over the World Champion Washington Nationals, but lost the Divisional Series vs. St. Louis Cardinals in five games. They have a great young ball club with a terrific starting rotation of, Mike Soroka, whose just 22 years old and finished 13-4, 2.68 ERA. He is currently their best hurler. Max Fried, who finished 17-6, 4.02 ERA. Mike Foltynewicz and a very good bullpen. Not to mention one of the best lineups around in Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr.and Ozzie Albies. Bumgarner would be like gold for this young team, which he would bring experience. The location is excellent for Bumgarner, who lives nearby in his home state of North Carolina. Plus he would stay in the National League. I would say Atlanta is the best place for him.
The Twins won the American League Central Division with 101-61 record but were swept by the Yankees 3-0 in the Divisional Series. Like Atlanta, they are another young team in need of an experienced starter like the Giants lefty, but unlike the Braves, they are not as deep in pitching. Therefore, the Twins could go hard after Bumgarner. But there is one disadvantage as Bumgarner has only pitched in the National League with the Giants. He is one of the best hitting pitchers in the game and was even used as a pinch-hitter by Bruce Bochy. He loves to hit. The youngest and most talented starter with the Twins is the 25-year-old José Berrios, who finished 14-8, 3.68 ERA this season. The Twins are probably in the conversation for the Giants pitcher.
There are other potential teams looking for pitching,the Los Angeles Angels are one of those. He would definitely fit very well in Joe Maddon’s new team. The Angels are going to go heavy on free agents, especially Gerrit Cole, who was born in Newport Beach, about 45 minutes from Angel Stadium. He seems a perfect fit for the Halos. The San Diego Padres is another young up-and-coming team who plays in the same division as the Giants. They should be looking at him, too, and do not forget the American League Champion Houston Astros. Their rotation — especially if Cole leaves — will be a solid one with this acquisition.
Either Atlanta or Minnesota could offer Bumgarner, who is 30 years old, a two-year deal worth in the $40 million range. I do not see a problem with that. More than two years is a risk because he is still a good pitcher but not as dominant as he once was. Let’s face it, nobody knows which Bumgarner they would get. Although there is a chance of scenery for him, leaving a team that is not close to returning to the Fall Classic, like Atlanta or Minnesota, who are much closer, is something that he likely is considering at this stage in his career. He is the type of competitor that with a winning team, he would perform much better and he would be motivated to take his team to the postseason, which is something he cannot do with today’s Giants.
Bumgarner is in a good situation. If he decided to stay put with the Giants, that would have been a surprise to many. Although 60 wins is tied in total wins at home when Matt Cain was with the Giants. Pitching at Oracle Park, which is not a hitting paradise, is an advantage if he decides to stay in San Francisco and fans will love it, and if he retired with the Orange and Black, that would be even better, but fans do not have much of a say on his future. In my opinion, the only San Francisco Giant that will never leave the team (of the original players that were part of the even year World Series era) is Buster Posey. He was the Rookie of the Year in the NL with the Giants in 2010 and he will retire as a Giant.
Where will Bumgarner be pitching next season? At the end of the day, it is about the money. What else is new?