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The obvious reason why a Madison Bumgarner reunion is unlikely



© Jeff Curry | 2023 Apr 19

Madison Bumgarner, who helped bring three World Series championships to San Francisco, is heading for free agency. But a reunion with the Giants is far-fetched.

Bumgarner, 33, got designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks Thursday morning. When he clears waivers — no team will want to claim him and pay the $20.4 million remaining on his salary this year — he’ll be able to sign with any team that shows interest in his services. There’s one reason why the Giants almost surely won’t be one of those teams.

“We do have, like, a gazillion starters,” Giants pitcher Logan Webb said.

Although Webb’s characterization is hyperbole, the sentiment remains. With Webb, Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, Ross Stripling, Sean Manaea, Anthony DeSclafani (plus Jakob Junis, Sean Hjelle and eventually Kyle Harrison), the Giants are all set on the rotation front.

Bumgarner, too, has struggled mightily since signing with Arizona in 2020.

Webb played one season with Bumgarner on the Giants. He admitted the demonstrative Bumgarner was “very intimidating” when he met the veteran as a rookie.

In his most recent start, a seven-run, three-inning dud, he got into a verbal spat with Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras. In the past, the southpaw has gotten into it with Max Muncy, Wil Myers and Yasiel Puig, among others.

With the Giants, Bumgarner became a legend for his epic postseason performance — particularly in the 2014 World Series. He’s one of the most effective playoff pitcher ever, sporting a career 2.11 ERA in 102.1 postseason innings.

“He’s obviously one of the most important pitchers in Giants history,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “A guy that has a ton of respect of the players on this club and in this city.”

Bumgarner made four All-Star teams in San Francisco. Yet since joining the Diamondbacks, Bumgarner has posted a 5.23 ERA over 69 starts. The D-Backs still owe him more than $34 million after cutting him.

Bumgarner is still young for a pitcher, but he put a ton of miles on his arm during his 11-year run with the Giants. His fastball velocity has dipped to an average of 89.5 mph this season.

“I feel like in sports, there’s always times where I think guys respond to a change of scenery,” Webb said. “One of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time. Maybe just him getting out of that situation — I’m not saying the situation’s bad or anything — but just a change of scenery. Maybe there’s a couple tweaks he might need to do that the Diamondbacks aren’t seeing. I’m excited to see where this takes him. He’s still Madison Bumgarner.”

Even if a comeback was likely, the Giants don’t represent the cleanest fit.

“Our pitching staff is in a pretty good position right now,” Kapler said. “We have starting pitchers. We have a full bullpen. Thinking about our club, we’re in a good position. Obviously, Madison’s a great pitcher as well.”