News broke on Thursday that the Arizona Diamondbacks are parting ways with Madison Bumgarner, designating the veteran left-hander for assignment. It is a somewhat surprising move considering Bumgarner is the highest paid player on the team in terms of average annual value, and he is set to make $23 million this season.
That doesn’t even take into account Arizona is still on the hook to pay him another $14 million next year before he reaches free agency. However, the Diamondbacks have seen enough of the tall southpaw after just four starts this season, and he will need a new team to pitch for. But that team should not be the Chicago Cubs for a multitude of reasons.
First and foremost, the left-hander hasn’t been good in years
There was a time when Bumgarner was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. During his time with the San Francisco Giants, the big man amassed a whopping 1,846 innings with a 3.13 ERA and four All-Star appearances. His shining moments came in the postseason though, where he helped bring three championships to the Bay Area in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The 2014 postseason was particularly impressive, where Bumgarner threw 52 October innings with a minuscule 1.03 ERA, good enough for the NLCS and World Series MVP trophies.
But that prowess seems pretty far removed at this point, as the last great season Bumgarner had was arguably 2018. And he only started 21 games that year. In fact, ever since signing his $85 million deal with Arizona, Bumgarner’s has seemingly lost his former ace level stuff. His only full season was 2022, but over 30 starts the southpaw had a 4.88 ERA.
The left-hander seemed to have picked up right where he left off last year, and Arizona finally saw enough. Bumgarner is shockingly only 33-years-old, so there is still time to turn things around and have a late career renaissance. But the Cubs should realistically not be looking for a restoration project with the team playing so well.
There’s no room in the rotation (which is a nice problem to have)
For the first time since Chicago was at the peak of its contention window a half-decade or more ago, the starting rotation is a position of strength – at least early on in 2023. Both Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele are looking like real front-of-the-rotation pieces and Drew Smyly and Jameson Taillon are solid rotation mates, along with newcomer Hayden Wesneski.
Knowing all that, the Cubs already boast a full rotation, and one of their main starters, Kyle Hendricks, is not even back from the injured list yet. Not to mention there is solid pitching depth throughout the minor league system ready to fill the spot of anyone who goes down via injury.
The Cubs could use a true ace-level starter, but Bumgarner has not been that guy in a long time. Unless he wants to be the lefty specialist out of the bullpen, a position the Cubs failed to address in the offseason, Bumgarner just simply would not fit on this team in terms of a roster standpoint.
Bumgarner is a bit of a hot head with a heated history
It’s no secret Bumgarner is not exactly the nicest guy in the baseball world. In fact, if you are facing him in the batter’s box, there’s a decent chance he will curse you out even if you don’t deserve it.
This attitude has put Bumgarner in the middle of many a benches-clearing moment, and the Cubs simply do not need that in the clubhouse right now. It seems like the team has good chemistry under David Ross and his coaching staff, and a guy like Bumgarner would throw a wrench in what they’ve built.
Bumgarner’s inflammatory style of baseball, along with his shaky track record in recent years, would serve well on a team that is not competing right now. I would theorize he ends up landing in a spot like the Kansas City Royals or the Cincinnati Reds – maybe he reunites with his former manager, Bruce Bochy, in Texas.