The Diamondbacks announced that left-hander Madison Bumgarner has been released. The southpaw had been designated for assignment last week.
The move doesn’t come as a shock, given the combination of his contract and his poor results of late. He and the D’Backs agreed to a five-year, $85MM deal going into 2020 after the lefty had spent a decade as an incredibly effective pitcher for the Giants. Unfortunately, he seemed like a completely different pitcher once he switched jerseys, starting with a 6.48 ERA in the shortened 2020 season. His strikeout rate dropped to 15.8% after being in the mid-20s for much of his earlier career.
Given the strange nature of that year, it didn’t necessarily portend doom for the remainder of the contract. He bounced back somewhat in 2021, getting his strikeouts back up to a 20.2% level and his ERA down to a more respectable 4.67, but he didn’t get back to the dominant levels of his time with the Giants. His strikeouts dipped again to 16% last year as his ERA climbed north a bit to 4.88. Here in 2023, things went even further south, as he was torched for a 10.26 in his first four starts, punching out just 11.1% of opponents while walking 16.7%. As the club shifted to win-now mode and dedicated its rotation spots to young pitchers on the rise, Bumgarner wore out his welcome in Arizona.
His contract still runs through 2024, with a $23MM salary this year, leaving about $19MM and change left to be paid out before he’ll make $14MM next year. Given that hefty financial commitment and his recent struggles on the mound, it’s unsurprising that none of the 29 other clubs were willing to put in a waiver claim and take on that contract, leading to today’s release.
Bumgarner will now officially return to the open market and will be free to sign with any club, with the Diamondbacks remaining on the hook for that money. Any club that’s willing to give Bumgarner a shot will only have to pay him the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the roster, with that amount being subtracted from what the D’Backs pay. The level of interest he will garner remains to be seen. The minimal financial commitment will certainly be appealing but that will have to be weighed against his lack of effectiveness this year and in the previous three as well.