The Cincinnati Reds are certainly going after it this offseason. So far they’ve landed a few players, with the big one being Mike Moustakas. But after losing out on Yasmani Grandal, and earlier today Zack Wheeler, the Reds have seemed to moved right along to left-handed starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner. That’s the report from Jon Heyman of MLB Network, who also notes that The Athletic’s Mark Feinsand says a deal with Bumgarner could come soon with one of the teams chasing him.

Madison Bumgarner is going to be a 30-year-old left-handed starting pitcher in the 2020 season. He’s been a workhorse for the San Francisco Giants throughout his career. From 2011-2019 he topped 200 innings seven different times. He did so last season, too – making 34 starts for San Francisco. Every single year of his career he’s posted an above-average ERA+. It’s sitting at 120 for his career. His career ERA is sitting at 3.13.

But last season was one of the worst of his career. Of course that also speaks to how good he’s been for his career, too. In his 207.2 innings he posted a 3.90 ERA and a 107 ERA+. Bumgarner doesn’t walk anyone – he handed out just 43 free passes this past season while striking out 203 hitters.

During 2019 he showed big home and road splits. At home his ERA was 2.93 in 122.2 innings where he allowed 15 home runs. But on the road his ERA was 5.29 in 85.0 innings where he also allowed 15 home runs. For his career he’s pitched better at home than on the road, but not to that extreme. His ERA is 0.81 lower in the friendly confines of an enormous ballpark in San Francisco. The biggest issue is the home run rate between the two. In just 8.2 more innings on the road he’s allowed 118 home runs on the road compared to 74 at home. A move to a more home run friendly ballpark, in a more home run friendly division (because of the ballparks) is a reason for some concern.

With that said, Madison Bumgarner does bring some good stuff to the table that would make you believe he could find success in Cincinnati. He misses a lot of bats and he doesn’t walk guys. That will usually lead to a good pitcher. His home runs per fly ball rate wasn’t really out of whack for his career in 2019. It was his ground ball rate that dropped to a career low 35.8% that was more of the issue. The baseball returning to normal, or even just his ground ball rate getting back to where it’s been would probably “fix” the home run issues he ran into during the past season.

MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Madison Bumgarner would get a 4-year deal worth $72M. They rated him as the 6th best free agent on the market. Fangraphs Kiley McDaniels also saw a 4-year deal in his predictions, but for a total of $64M. McDaniels rated Bumgarner as the 8th best free agent on the market.

Madison Bumgarner Stat Links

Baseball Reference link for Madison Bumgarner.

Fangraphs link for Madison Bumgarner.

Baseball Savant link for Madison Bumgarner.

Photo of Madison Bumgarner by SD Dirk on Flickr. Photo has been modified. License can be found here.

41 Responses

  1. JB

    Really like his mean streak. He would bring a attitude to this club that is needed.

  2. Optimist

    Almost any 4 year deal is OK – didn’t like the 5th year for Wheeler, and not a good idea for any pitcher (yeah – it’s a Homer thing to a large extent.) Seems they’ve accepted the logic of overpaying for the last year to keep the farm stocked, and hope to make up the difference with an extra year or two on a Lodolo or Greene.

    Seems prices are higher this year, so doubt 64-72 will get it done. Won’t be surprised to see an AAV or 20, or higher for a 3 year deal.

    • TBD

      Optimist
      “Seems they’ve accepted the logic of overpaying for the last year to keep the farm stocked”
      you stated that well.
      And I also agree that is the way they should go with this. There had been tooooo many years were we had no farm system and no money to spend on free agents.

  3. Tom Mitsoff

    To me, he’s a much higher risk than Wheeler due to the 1,000 more innings pitched. You can almost visualize the Reds’ approach to free agency: Aside from Rendon, Cole and Strasburg, they have made a priority list of the free agents they want to sign, and they are working their way down that list. They will perhaps keep doing so until their allotted budget increase has been spent.

    • TBD

      Tom
      Completely agree on your assessment of an arm that has a lot of milage.
      Also completely agree that they are just working down a list that they have put together.

  4. Seat101

    My son would like to be able to comment on this site how does one register as a new member?

    • Doug Gray

      No one is registered now. Just fill out the boxes and make a comment.

  5. Kurt Frost

    I don’t knit about this guy. He has to have his diaper changed after every inning.

  6. Steve D

    My concern with him is that he did not pitch well outside of San Fran. He has a very high fly ball rate. Not sure if he would translate well to GABP.

    • doofus

      Uh? “…very high fly ball rate?” According to Fangraphs he has a career GB/FB rate of 1.17?

  7. Steve D

    Would much rather target a ground pitcher like Keuchel.

    • Ghettotrout1

      I actually kinda agree Dallas is fine in my mind.

    • MBS

      100% agree on Keuchel. He should be the goal. If at the end of the day we could sign Bum and not Keuchel I’d still be very happy, even ecstatic.

  8. Joey

    Would love this on one of those two year deals the Reds front office used to give to washed out relievers every year. Remember those days?????? I doubt he goes less than four though to wherever he goes.

  9. Kevin Patrick

    Between he and Lorenzen, we would see a lot of pitcher home runs…stats aside… you can tell he is a fierce competitor. At the very least, a name like his would sell a lot of tickets… and no… I’m not Scott Boras in disguise.

  10. streamer88

    4/80 isn’t an organization ender for a highly effective (formerly elite) LH starter who probably has 3 above average years left in the tank. If his savvy and competitive demeanor and low stress delivery creates the aging curve Arroyo produced (but with better arm talent) we could see ++ value with the deal.

    Plus this guy has down-the-stretch and postseason leadership/experience this team needs!

  11. Wes Hairston

    Assuming that the Reds have approximately $100 million to spend, and this is based on the apparent offer to Wheeler, perhaps the focus should be on Nicholas Castellanos and Dellin Betances. The offense gets measurably better and the bullpen becomes a strength. While Bumgarner would be a nice get, these moves potentially strengthen the team to greater degree.

  12. Chris

    Well he’s an All-Time Great Postseason pitcher and that’s where we’re trying to get… K/BB is as good as ever and he gives you a ton of above-average MLB innings even at his worst. Lots of mileage and HR issues, but he’s only a year (or maybe 2) older than Wheeler. Would love to see what Derek Johnson and Driveline could do with him. 4yr $80MM. Replace those Mahle/Wood starts with MadBum the rotation is the deepest in baseball.

  13. Ed

    Man- I’m all on board for this. I’d love to see two outfield improvements made too—— 2 of Castellanos, Puig, Ozuna, or a trade for someone in center…. unreal lineup depth. With Bumgarner, the rotation is insane as long as Bauer doesn’t poop the bed. if we can add someone like Bumgarner, the stress is much more evenly distributed. Castillo Gray Bumgarner Disco and Mahle/Bauer as the number 5?

    • CP

      I like the idea of getting another OF as well. But I don’t think we need 2, just one. I think there is a good chance one of those OF’s have to settle for a 1 year prove it deal or a shorter 2-3 year deal with higher AAV. Castellanos/Puig/Ozuna may not all be able to demand 4 year deals to get signed. If one of them can be signed to a 2-3 year deal that could work out great. I personally lean towards Castellanos or Puig. Castellanos seems to provide the most sure thing offensively but his defense is bad, as to where Puig is less sure offensively but is a plus on defense/base running/intangibles.

      • Ed

        I agree with all this- I just worry that Winker will end up down and then there isn’t really a ton of depth to fill in and produce. I have to imagine Winker and Ervin could be flipped for a bullpen piece and maybe a backup shortstop? But Puig and Castellanos mashing together with Moose and Suarez? Just incredible. Especially if Votto finds a way to get his OBP back up.

        I’m also fine with Keuchel or Bumgarner, but I think we absolutely need one of them.

      • Redleg Bob

        Puig all day. Don’t have to to commit near as much money or years.

    • Michael W.

      Is it just me or does getting Bumgarner on a deal such as 4/$80MM make a ton of sense? It gives the FO cost certainty and makes Bauer and his $18.6MM expendable. I say go get Bumgarner and then sign Castellanos and Betances to solidify the bullpen. Moving Bauer to get this accomplished could make it happen, and you could probably send 1 year of Bauer + a higher end prospect to LA for 1 (or 2 I can’t remember) year(s) of Seager. This would be a dream scenario for me.

  14. Rod Andrews

    If we could get a hitting shortstop like Gregorius it would be best to try to add another decent pitcher if there’s any more money in the till. With that said, pitching is still the name of the game.

  15. B-town fan

    The Reds should definitely go after Bumgarner he would strengthen the rotation this season making it one of the best and protect against when Bauer and Disco become free agents after next season.

  16. Sabr Chris

    I’m liking the idea of picking up a quality starter whom a. Locks down the rotation this year b. Hedges the potential loss of Buaer and Disco next year c. Gives us the ability to use one of the propect as a trade piece.

    I’m not excited at the pursuit of an outfield now the Senzel will be staying in Center. Big believer in the potential of a Winker/Ervin platoon in Left. Go get a veteran lefty to backup/platoon/hedge Aquino in right.
    Finally, get a Shortstop…Didi, Seagers, Lindor (let me dream).

    • Ed

      If Winker sits, the team is screwed. I really think the outfield is as sure of an upgrade as it gets- with Casali:Barnhart and Galvis, we need the outfield to produce. We need some more power and durability to compete- and better base running would be another means of improving that stats don’t always emphasize. With Bumgarner and two killer corner outfielders, I’m down to move Senzel and a prospect for a center fielder, and then we go all the way.

  17. Wes

    O’s gave away Bundy as a salary dump. Guess reds only after top talent. Good strategy.

  18. RedNat

    sign Puig and Bumgarner. at the very least the clubhouse wouldn’t be boring!

  19. Tom

    Puig and Bumgarner on same team? Best be ready to either expand that clubhouse or refurbish it after they have their first run in. Be funny as hell though, be even greater if they worked to bring a WS Title home.

  20. Scott Laney

    Doesn’t it seem that we never get the guys that we are “linked” to? Wondering if other teams are simply using us as leverage.

  21. CP

    I’m concerned the rumors that the Reds were so seriously in on Wheeler and then immediately pivoting to Bumgardner is telling toward how negotiations with Didi might be going. If they thought they had a real chance with Didi, would they being going after these pitchers?

    • cartel

      I am hoping the reds can walk and chew gum at the same time. Hopefully they have multiple irons in the fire. My guess is Didi and Bumgardner are not mutually exclusive.

      • CP

        I’m sure they can multi task. That wasn’t my point. My concern is that is there may not be enough money to get both Burmgard, Didi, and finish filling out the 25 man roster. One of Bumgarner or Didi could come at the cost of the other. Just don’t know where the final budget will land.

      • TBD

        cartel
        Not knowing how much they have to spend. But, I’d agree that I don’t think the two are “mutually exclusive”

      • Tom Mitsoff

        It’s my belief that what we’re seeing is the front office has made a priority list of players they would like to sign, and they are working their way down the list. Just because there are no rumors doesn’t mean they are not talking to Gregorius, but if you go by rumors only, it would indicate they value Bumgarner higher or equal to Gregorius.

  22. sixpack

    I think think a Winker/Ervin platoon will do just find in left field. upgrade SS and get a Pitcher left hand and let;s go!

  23. Randy riley

    I personally would the Reds to sign Tanner Roark and Corey Dickerson that way the team then can sign who ever for the bullpen.