Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.
Madison Bumgarner, LH SP, Giants
2019 salary: $12,000,000
2019 stats: 207.2 IP, 3.90 ERA, 203 K, 43 BB, 191 hits (30 HR)
What Bumgarner would bring to the White Sox
Perhaps the most accomplished playoff pitcher of all time. In Bumgarner's 11 years with the Giants he was a massive part of their even year success this decade. He won three rings with the Giants (2010, 2012, 2014), including a World Series MVP in 2014. He did all that before his 26th birthday.
In his career, Bumgarner has a 2.11 ERA in 102.1 playoff innings with an 8-3 record. He has three playoff shutouts in 14 playoff starts. Oh, and he has a 0.25 ERA in the World Series in 36 innings. One run in 36 innings in the World Series.
All that playoff success is where Bumgarner made his name and he did so at such a young age (his MLB debut came just over a month after he turned 20) that it's easy to forget that he's still just 30 and should have plenty of years left.
How many 30-year-olds who appear to be locks for the Hall of Fame have ever been available in free agency? For all the hype Bryce Harper and Manny Machado had in free agency last year for being young, elite talents, neither had anywhere near the career accomplishments of Bumgarner.
The counterpoint to that is that Bumgarner has a lot of mileage on his arm. He has thrown 1948.1 innings combined in the regular season and playoffs. He has thrown at least 111 innings in each of the past 10 seasons with seven 200-inning seasons. Bumgarner was one of 15 pitchers to surpass 200 innings this past season.
His performance has slipped a bit in his past three years after posting ERAs under 3.00 from 2013-2016. Still, he has been an above average pitcher. Last year's 3.90 ERA was the lowest ERA+ of his career at 107, which still rates as above average.
Bumgarner would bring an experienced, solid pitcher to the staff. He likely wouldn't be a franchise-changer like Gerrit Cole could be wherever he goes, but Bumgarner is likely to be a dependable option. Plus, no team wants to go against him in the playoffs.
What it would take to get him
The Giants signed Bumgarner to a six-year deal worth $35.56 million early in the 2012 season. That bought out some of his arbitration years and early free agency years. The Giants picked up contract options each of the last two seasons for $12 million. This is the first time he's hitting free agency.
Given his track record and proven dependability, Bumgarner could get around $20 million per year over multiple years in a quickly escalating pitching market. That means the White Sox would have to give him a record-setting deal for the club.
Why it makes sense for the White Sox
Bumgarner isn't going to require the record-setting money that Cole and Stephen Strasburg are expecting to get. That means the White Sox should be able to be in on the negotiations.
The flip side is that there will be plenty of competition. Who doesn't want arguably the best postseason pitcher ever at age 30 who has been nothing but consistent in his career?
The White Sox haven't been mentioned much in rumors around Bumgarner, but he would add experience and reliability to the rotation.
In the wake of Wheeler signing with Phillies and Hamels signing with Braves, Bumgarner market is clarifying. Per sources, White Sox and Twins among heaviest suitors there. Yankees involved to some degree.— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 4, 2019
The Atlanta #Braves decided they weren't comfortable with free-agent starter Madison Bumgarner's pricetag likely exceeding $100 million, so they turned to Cole Hamels. Now, they would love to bring back third baseman Josh Donaldson.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 4, 2019