Should the Brewers Target Madison Bumgarner in Free Agency?
By Tyler Koerth
The Brewers have spots to fill in their starting rotation this offseason. One man the Brewers were linked to at the 2019 trade deadline was Madison Bumgarner. Now that he’s a free agent, does it make sense for the Brewers to target him?
The career numbers for Madison Bumgarner are outstanding. A 3.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 8.75 K:9, and 15 complete games in nine years of MLB service time is incredible. Interestingly enough, he has never won a Cy Young award, but has finished in the top 10 on four different occasions.
Bumgarner is a four-time All Star, all in consecutive seasons from 2013-2016. His 2017 and 2018 seasons were derailed by injuries, but he was excellent when healthy in those years. In 2019, he returned to form with a 3.90 ERA and over 200 innings pitched. At 30 years old, Bumgarner proved last season that he is still a high quality pitcher.
Bumgarner has had some significant postseason moments throughout his career. In 2010, he threw eight shutout innings in the World Series at the ripe age of 21 years old. In 2014, he came on in relief during Game 7 of the World Series just three days after throwing a complete game shutout on 117 pitches. He would record the final 15 outs of the World Series during that relief outing in Game 7, which the Giants won.
How big of a contract will Bumgarner want?
This could be the last 3-4 year deal Bumgarner signs in his career, so he is going to want to make the most of it. Any shorter deals will most likely be disregarded.
In terms of annual salary, $14-$17MM per year is probably the range he’ll be getting.
It’s possible that he could sign a one-year deal with a salary north of $17MM in hopes to increase his asking price during the 2020 offseason. Given the aggressiveness of teams so far in free agency, this option seems rather unlikely.
There have been some reports that Bumgarner’s market could be pushing his contract to around $100 million total, but it’s unclear how accurate those reports are.
Should the Brewers Pursue Bumgarner?
The Brewers currently have a lot of financial flexibility. They have yet to make a big splash in the free agent pool despite having needs primarily at third base, first base, and in the starting rotation. Signing Bumgarner to a multi-year deal for $14-$17MM would still allow the Brewers to pursue mid to higher level talent at other positions.
A 1-2 punch at the top of the starting rotation in Brandon Woodruff and Madison Bumgarner would be a big force and would eat up a lot of innings. Throw in potential starters Brent Suter and Eric Lauer and suddenly you are looking at a starting rotation with three left handed starters!
Teams don’t see left handed starting pitchers too often, so deploying this strategy could benefit the Brewers. This strategy reminds me of the Cubs starting rotation when it consisted of Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, and Jon Lester.
While signing Bumgarner would be the exact opposite type of move we have seen David Stearns do in the past, it actually makes sense this year.
After acquiring catcher Omar Narvaez, the Brewers should be looking to add pitchers who don’t need a great defensive catcher to be great. Mad-Bum is that guy.