Now that pitcher Madison Bumgarner has rejected the San Francisco Giants’ qualifying offer and entered free agency for the first time in his MLB career, a lot of teams are expected to show interest in the left-hander. New reports suggest that these teams include one of the Giants’ rivals in the National League West Division — the San Diego Padres.
On Wednesday night, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman tweeted that the Padres “have interest” in Bumgarner and were set to speak to the pitcher’s agent, Ed Cerulo, during the recently concluded general manager meetings, which ran from Monday through Thursday. This makes “MadBum” the latest high-profile free-agent pitcher connected to the Padres in recent weeks, as the team has also been linked to this year’s World Series MVP, Stephen Strasburg, who last played for the Washington Nationals.
Should Bumgarner leave San Francisco and join the Padres or any other team, he will not be the first key member of the Giants’ pitching corps to move to a rival club. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, All-Star closer Will Smith signed a three-year, $40 million contract with the Atlanta Braves after also declining the Giants’ $17.8 million qualifying offer.
As pointed out by NBC Sports, the Padres’ interest in Bumgarner isn’t surprising, considering how, as a Giants pitcher, he played so well against San Diego over the years. In 11 seasons in the majors, the 30-year-old lefty has posted a 13-10 win-loss record and a 3.40 ERA in 36 games against the Padres. He has also started 17 out of 18 games played so far in PetCo Park, though NBC Sports noted that he has done “good, but not great” in San Diego’s home field, going 5-7 with a 3.97 ERA.
Although Bumgarner is entering free agency with impressive credentials, including three World Series appearances and four trips to the All-Star Game, NBC Sports Bay Area observed he hasn’t been as dominant on the mound in recent years. Still, the outlet described him as a “fascinating” player to keep an eye on as the MLB offseason continues.
After a 2019 season where they finished last in the NL West with a 70-92 record, the Padres are reportedly hoping to upgrade their starting rotation for the 2020 season, hence their rumored interest in Bumgarner and other top pitchers. Although Strasburg and former Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole have been dominating headlines as the top two free-agent hurlers this offseason, MLB.com noted that the Padres will likely upgrade their rotation by signing someone in the “second tier” — a group where Bumgarner was included along with the likes of Zack Wheeler.