Madison Bumgarner was designated for assignment earlier this week by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The left-handed pitcher still had this season and next season on his contract. Given the amount of money he’s owed, no one is going to put in a claim for him. That will make him a free agent once he clears waivers. The Cincinnati Reds certainly seem like they could use another starting pitcher, but is Bumgarner the right fit?

It’s been tough for the lefty over the last few years. From 2009 through 2019 he never posted an ERA over 3.90, and it was in that 2019 season that his ERA on the season topped 3.47 for the first time. But once he turned 30, things took a turn south. His ERA since the start of the 2020 season is 5.23, which is good for an ERA+ of 80 (meaning he’s been 20% below the league average when we adjust for the ballparks he’s pitched in). Frankly put, he’s been a very poor pitcher. But of late he’s been even worse than that. This season his ERA is 10.26 through four starts and he’s walked 15 batters in 16.2 innings with just 10 strikeouts. His ERA from the start of August last season through the end of the year – covering nine starts – sits at 7.26 and he gave up 10 home runs in 48.1 innings while also allowing 65 hits.

Heading into August his ERA was at 3.83 and while he was giving up more hits than innings, his control was good, but his strikeout rate was down quite a bit. His velocity did dip a bit in those final two months last year, losing about half a mile per hour on his fastball. But this year it’s down a full mile per hour from that.

It’s pretty clear that whatever is going on – and maybe it’s just an accumulation of tons of innings from age 20-30 catching up to him – that he’s simply not the same pitcher he used to be. The stuff is so bad that opposing hitters have reportedly been treating his stuff like they would as if he were a position player pitching.

But it’s not just the stuff, either. Bumgarner apparently didn’t want to listen to his pitching coach or follow the game plans that were put together by the coaching staff according to AZ Central:

Bumgarner’s relationship with the coaching staff had soured; he and pitching coach Brent Strom never saw eye-to-eye. Bumgarner rarely used the game plans provided to him by the team’s support staff.

With Luis Cessa as the team’s current 5th starter and him being in a role that he probably isn’t best suited for, the Reds probably should be looking for another option there. But does it seem like Madison Bumgarner is the right fit? He’s been very bad for a while now, and he seems to have a whole lot of baggage that comes along with that.

43 Responses

  1. Jon

    One team’s trash is Nick Krall’s treasure…so it wouldn’t surprise me.

    In all seriousness, how do the Pirates have a winning record three weeks into the season and sit six games over .500? Are they the 2023 version of the 2022 Orioles?

    • David

      Their pitching is better (their bullpen is actually pretty good), and they are scoring more runs, compared to last year.

      And yes, they are a better team, at this point in time, than they were last year…and better than the Reds.

    • CI3J

      I don’t think it will last. A lot of bad or mediocre teams have come roaring out of the gate like gangbusters, only to fade down the stretch. The Pirates have done well early on, but they don’t have the team to sustain it.

      That’s the beauty of playing 162 games. There’s no hiding what you really are over the course of that many games.

  2. old-school

    Weaver settled in and pitched well after a bad first so he will be SP4 for awhile. Overton is done and Cessa doesnt look like a credible major league starting pitcher capable of getting through a lineup twice, let alone once. None of the Reds prospect pitchers are ready for months- Stoudt/Williamson/Abbott.

    That leaves Chase Anderson as the only remaining internal solution. I suppose he will be promoted to make a few starts.

    I have no idea on Bumgarner. He’s a complex guy with an attitude who seems to be pitching himself out of the league. Pham and his baggage wasnt good for this team so I would think no. It would come down to DJ and whether he thought there was a reclamation opportunity.

    This 2023 team is at a bit of a crossroads. The SP has dug a hole too many times the last 10 games and the offense is cratering at the same time. Thats the recipe for how losing streaks and 2-8 stretches happen. Pirates are better.

  3. Andy

    You will see Billy Madison in the 5th spot before you see Madison Bumgarner

  4. redfanorbust

    Diamondbacks ate $34M for a reason. I don’t know if it would be allowed or if Bumgarner would even consider it but unless he took a minor league deal I would make that a hard pass.

    • Jim Walker

      Once he clears waivers, he is 100% a free agent with the proviso that whatever he is paid from now through the end of his (prior) contract gets put against the Snakes payout, however exactly that gets routed.

      • Colorado Red

        Except for the MLB minimum.
        So prorated 700K,
        But I still say NO

  5. David

    At this point, I would promote Andrew Abbott before signing Madison Bumgarner. At one time, 10-11 years ago, he was one of the premier left-handed pitchers in Baseball. MVP of the 2012 World Series.
    I think he’s done, barring some miraculous pitching adjustment, or inventing or learning a new pitch. His fastball has lost movement and velocity, and it shows.

  6. AMDG

    He has pitched very poorly over the past 4 seasons, and especially terribly this year.

    Although those 4 seasons coincide with his time in Arizona.

    So, it makes one wonder if he’s just lost his ability to pitch well, or there is just something off with what he’s doing in Arizona that isn’t working – like how Sonny Gray struggled when the Yankees tried to change him.

    With the Diamondbacks he isn’t being hit any harder, but he is giving up a lot more fly balls and a lot fewer ground balls.

    If that’s fixable, and if he comes cheap. His track record isn’t any worse than Overton, Anderson, or Weaver.

  7. Mark Moore

    Not the worst idea … but probably in the bottom 10 at the moment. Cost is bupkus, but if we take a low-risk flyer and it works, then it works. It would have to be a significant rehabilitation project as others have noted.

  8. Kevin H

    Sure it couldn’t hurt as it would low cost and if it works then great. Having a veteran pitcher around isn’t the worst thing.

    However I doubt he would want to pitch in a band box

  9. LarkinPhillips

    ot all veterans are “veteran leaders” that you want around your clubhouse. From the sounds of things both in AZ and SF, Madbum is not the guy you want rubbing off on your younger pitchers.

    With that said, I do wish we had a veteran “pitcher” for our younger pitchers to learn from. Some who loves the “art” of pitching like Cueto, Grienke, etc.

    • SteveAReno

      You are right, and especially when you learn he won’t cooperate with coaching staff I’m very wary. If I was in his predicament, I’d be asking and getting all the expert advice I could.

    • Mark Moore

      I tend to ignore the “veteran leadership” comments in almost every case. IMO, they rarely count for much in a substantive way. What I’m reading about Bum isn’t changing my mind on that front.

  10. CI3J

    If his name wasn’t “Madison Bumgarner”, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

    Just think of him as “Player A”, then look at his stats for the past 4 seasons. Is that someone you want on your team? We already have pitchers that put up those kind of stats, why do we want another one?

    • Kevin H

      If he found lightening in a bottle and won 10 games for the club? Who knows right? Low risk investment in my opinion.

      However the not being coachable or character issues? Who knows.

  11. Optimist

    To flip the view a bit, if the Reds did take him, and then DFA him very quickly, I expect that would finish his career. So they may have more leverage than some other teams in trying it out. Of course, they’d need to make it very clear that attitude and coachability are their top priorities, but they have credibility from the Harvey episode, and they have the obvious need. They could give him 4-6 starts regardless of how awful it goes, provided he’s following game plans and not adverse in the clubhouse. That’s more than he’d get from most other teams, so it does make it his decision to prove he still has value.

  12. TJ

    I think the key part of the argument was that he didn’t see eye to eye with the pitching coach and wasn’t following the game plan. If he’s not willing to listen (I know better. I’m Madison Bumgarner) to our pitching coach who might be able to fix what’s broken, then I would say no to Bumgarner.

    • greenmtred

      I’m not in favor of signing him, but it’s possible that his problem with the coach is specific to that coach.

  13. Tim

    You guys who are smarter than me… which is all of you. Who in the Reds organization other than Greene and Lodolo is pitching better than Abbott?

  14. RedsGettingBetter

    I wouldn’t like another Mike Minor this season… That’s enough…
    I really rather give another shot to Anderson while Abbott continues climbing

    • Optimist

      True, but the Reds are short 2 starting pitchers, and while Anderson and Weaver get the next month in the rotation, either or both are unlikely long-termers. Cessa needs to be in the pen.

      I guess there is another question about MadBum – if he signs as a FA, is that just for this season, or do they get the remainder of the contract – next season as well. IOW, could he be league minimum for more than a year and a half? Some weird value in that.

  15. Mark A Verticchio

    Nothing really matters as long as bell continues to run guys like Vosler out there game after game it is clearly time for Bell and his total lack of energy to hit the road.

    • greenmtred

      Ain’t it the truth. Why doesn’t he play Aaron Judge or Mike Trout?

  16. DaveCT

    We could sign him as a DH.

    Oh, ok, he can come out of the bullpen, too

  17. Eddiek957

    No control did a lot of pitching in bigger ballparks. He’s been on a three year slide. Can’t believe I’m saying this but I’d rather see chase Anderson before Madison

  18. JayTheRed

    Yes 4 years is a pretty consistent track record. I think he just is done. Though one thought I was wondering about is that the air out in Arizona is different than in say the Midwest and other parts of the US, I wonder if that would matter at all.

    The way it sounds like he was not willing to listen to his pitching coach though worries me too.

    Anderson is not the answer either. Honestly the team messed up by not signing that one decent veteran pitcher. I would take Miley back right now over what we have at #4 and #5 in the rotation. Brewers made a good sign by picking him up.

    • MBS

      Some pitching coaches are better than others. Gray didn’t fair well under NYY pitching coach and philosophy.

      I really don’t see the down side. If he comes up and stinks it up, we’re still in the same exact situation as we are now. If he was taking away playing time from a young promising arm, or cost a lot of money, that was going to be better used on another player, then I could see not signing him.

  19. LDS

    If the price is right, does it matter? Will he be worse than the current 4&5 options? And Abbott from AA is too big a leap.

  20. JB

    Do the Reds really want his attitude in the clubhouse? Especially with a young team? Let’s not start going off the rails now after this rebuild. Stay the course. Hard pass.

    • Luke J

      Luke Weaver said he’s really good with young pitchers. Much of the bad rap he gets is from perception of his fiery competitiveness on the field, not from people who actually played with him.

      • Doug Gray

        And his coaches said he didn’t listen to them. Don’t think that is something you want the young guys to see.

  21. Votto4life

    No, because they would be signing him for what he has done and not for what he will do.

  22. Melvin

    I wander if he would be any good in the bullpen or even if he would do that. An effective lefty out there would help if it were feasible.

  23. Kurt Frost

    No bratty children allowed in the dugout.

  24. Larry Baker

    Why wouldn’t the Reds be interested in a cheap starting pitcher who has some history on winning games. It’s not like the Reds are a winning team. There is always space for a starting pitcher. Might get lucky. If he has success with the Reds, the Reds can trade him. The Reds Way.