In an offseason where both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg are entering free agency, many other starting pitchers will have to wait until that duo signs new contracts before landing at a new club. The reason, of course, is that most potential suitors of the ‘lesser’ pitchers will likely want to make a play for the two blue chip free agents.
However, there appears to be at least one starter who may not have to wait – Madison “MadBum” Bumgarner. The San Francisco Giants tendered a qualifying offer to the long-serving southpaw before Monday’s deadline but it is widely expected that he will reject that contract to test the waters of free agency.
After all, this season’s qualifying offer came in at $17.8 million and Bumgarner has every reason to demand more per season, even as he enters his 30s. The Giants will certainly make a subsequent offer if and when the veteran pitcher indeed rejects their contract.
They will have at least one rival according to NBC Sports California. They report that the Atlanta Braves have made MadBum their number one priority this winter. The Braves also plan to make contact with the lefty and make their interest very much known.
Atlanta is losing veteran left-hander Dallas Keuchel to free agency and see Bumgarner, a North Carolina native, as the perfect replacement. While he is no longer a potential ace for the Braves, Bumgarner is coming off of a solid season on the mound.
This year 2019 was the seventh season where the thirty-year-old hurled 200+ innings, amassing 207 2/3 this year. He finished the campaign with a 3.90 ERA, 8.8 K/9 and a career-low groundball percentage of 35.8. Furthermore, Bumgarner whiffed 203 batters and finished 2019 with a 1.127 WHIP.
While those numbers pale in comparison to Cole and Strasburg, they are good enough to be a good mid-rotation option for any MLB franchise, including the Braves. Additionally, Atlanta has a very young rotation at the moment and the veteran Bumgarner would contribute more than just innings.
His leadership and experience would likely rub off on the likes of Mike Soroka and Max Fried, possibly paying dividends down the road for the Braves. Should Bumgarner reject his qualifying offer, the Giants may find themselves in an unexpected bidding war with the Braves for the MadBum’s signature.
The post MLB Rumors: Atlanta Braves Making Madison Bumgarner Their Number One Priority appeared first on International Business Times.