Will Yankees free agent target Madison Bumgarner work out long-term?
At the general manager meetings, Brian Cashman stated that he will definitely be in contact with Madison Bumgarner’s agency this off-season. After confirming interest in both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, the top two starters on the free agent market, Cashman and the Yankees are making it known that they will attempt to secure a top name starter for the 2020 season and beyond.
While a top name like Bumgarner would be a solid addition the Yankees rotation for the short-term, it might backfire if he were signed to a five or six-year deal. There are several arguments that can be made as to why Bumgarner should not be signed to any deal longer than four seasons.
Bumgarner has been in the big leagues since September 2009. Ever since he was called up, he has found success. MadBum has won three World Series rings, including the 2014 World Series MVP for his remarkable Game 7 efforts in which he pitched five scoreless innings on two days rest. He also pitched nearly 53 innings that postseason, which is still the record for most innings in a single postseason by any pitcher. While the postseason experience holds a major advantage for Bumgarner, the innings tally can be frightening. Through the 2019 season, Bumgarner has pitched 1,846 innings by the age of 30. This number does not include his postseason stats, which will add 102.1 innings to give him a grand total of 1,948.1 innings pitched.
While Bumgarner has only been struck with major injuries from freak accidents, it is still a possible concern that as the 30-year-old continues to age, his body might begin to suffer some breakdowns. Many serious injuries to pitchers often occur to those who throw harder and who are younger, both of which do not apply to Bumgarner. My biggest concern of what could possibly impact him in the future the most will be his pitching shoulder. This injury came about from his dirt bike crash in April 2017 during an off day in Colorado. I am no medical doctor in any way, but it is a concern given the Yanks have faced tremendous amounts of injuries over the past two seasons.
Many fans are looking high on new pitching coach Matt Blake, myself included. The Yankees needed a more modern-day pitching coach who was more analytical, and they got the ideal candidate. While Blake could be an excellent coach to help develop the already strong pitching staff the Yankees have, we do not know for sure if he will be the new Brent Strom (Astros pitching coach). Many fans look at the regression of Justin Verlander and his final seasons in Detroit and are amazed at how his career turned around once he joined the Astros. Once he joined the Astros, Verlander was, once again, the pitcher from the early 2010’s that many batters feared. Would Matt Blake be able to help Bumgarner recapture his past successes?
Bumgarner allowed 30 home runs during the 2019 season, the most of his career. Even though this was statistically his worst year in many different categories, surrendering 30 home runs in one of the most pitcher friendly parks in the majors is scary. Taking into account that Yankee Stadium is very hitter friendly, this might be a concern for the Yankees.
While I would not be opposed to signing Bumgarner to a three-year deal with a mutual option for a fourth, the chances of that happening are almost slim to none. Bumgarner is arguably the third best pitcher on the free agent market this off-season and will more than likely command a five or six-year pact. If the Yankees want to look for a little bit of a cheaper option than Cole or Strasburg, Bumgarner might be the route to take. In the long-term, I just cannot see him completely working out.