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.
Reds are among teams with interest in Madison Bumgarner. Manager David Bell was in #SFGiants front office. Braves, Twins, Angels, Padres, Yankees and Phillies are other logical possibilities. @Feinsand says deal could come soon.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 5, 2019
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.