Madison Bumgarner the start of new chapter for D-backs, and vice versa
PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen, during the introductory press conference for new starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner on Tuesday, talked about the gap.
The gap between the D-backs and the Dodgers in the 2019 NL West Division standings was large — 21 games, to be exact. Even Bumgarner, at 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds, isn’t big enough to fill it. Hazen admitted that. But he’ll surely help, as will the structure of Bumgarner’s contract.
As reported by The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan, $15 million of the reported $85 million on Bumgarner’s new five-year deal will be deferred, and paid out from 2025-27, after the contract is over. In 2020, Bumgarner will make a mere $6 million, per Buchanan, which immensely helps the Diamondbacks keep their payroll low next year.
“We appreciate Madison and his representatives working with us on that,” Hazen said. “I think it shows his commitment to winning, allowing us to continue to go out there and add talent to our roster. We know we’re not a finished product. We’re well aware Madison or any other player in baseball wasn’t going to make up the deficit that we finished last year with the Dodgers.
“But there’s still a gap that we need to go out and continue to build our team the way we need to to give Torey [Lovullo] and his guys as much as they can to be able to go out there and compete.”
Signing a three-time World Series Champion wasn’t the first big deal Hazen has made since becoming the D-backs’ GM before the 2017 season. But it marks the completion of a changing of the guard at the top of the rotation; the departure of Zack Greinke to Houston and the arrival of a new ace via free agency.
If trade rumors and speculation come to fruition, and Robbie Ray is traded, the starting rotation would project to be comprised entirely from Hazen acquisitions: Bumgarner, Luke Weaver, Zac Gallen, Mike Leake, Merrill Kelly, barring internal competition.
But Ray’s departure is not a given.
“We didn’t enter into this agreement thinking that it was going to precipitate something else,” Hazen said. “We like the way our rotation’s set up right now. We have some additions to explore with the position player group. Maybe with the bullpen still, some. But we didn’t necessarily make this in anticipation of anything else.
“We felt that we were adding a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, and any team in baseball would be well-served to add a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. And we had that opportunity, and we took it.”
A SECOND HOME
Just as Diamondbacks fans will get used to watching a new ace, Bumgarner will enjoy new scenery. He spent the first 11 years of his career with the San Francisco Giants, who now become his division rival.
But Arizona already is familiar to the North Carolina native. For one, the Giants’ spring training facility is in Scottsdale, not far from the D-backs’ spring training site.
“Obviously been coming out here since 2007, was my first time here,” Bumgarner said. “So I got to spend a lot of time here. It’s a beautiful place. Obviously a ton of people want to come here and move to this area. For me, it just feels like where I’m supposed to be.
“I’ve got a lot of friends out here now, over the years. I know a lot of people. … It actually is a second home to me.”
Bumgarner’s Giants won three World Series, thanks in large part to his own efforts. But in 2019, the D-backs won eight more games than San Francisco.
“First and foremost, winning, that’s what the whole decision’s based on,” Bumgarner said. “And being with a team that, in my mind, is my brand of baseball and plays the way that I like to play — and I’m going to say does it the right way; maybe somebody else has a different opinion on that, but that’s how I feel about it — but I do love the Phoenix area. It’s like a second home to me.”
One reporter asked how it felt to put on a different uniform after so many years in the Bay Area.
“It feels pretty good.”