The Texas Rangers are currently sitting in first place in the AL West at 12-6. They are up by three games on the Angels and more on the rest of the division. They are far from a perfect team and so national writers are looking for ways for early contenders to improve their rosters. One of those national writers is ESPN's Buster Olney. He tweeted this out early this morning.
It is not ridiculous to link Madison Bumgarner to Texas especially since Bruce Bochy is now the manager. Bumgarner won three World Series with the Giants while Bochy was in charge. He famously won the World Series MVP in 2014 when he dominated the Royals in two starts and then came out of the bullpen to close out the series with five shutout innings. It should not be surprising that the Rangers would be linked to Bumgarner.
Bumgarner signed with Arizona after the 2019 season. Bochy stepped down and Bumgarner walked away to truly end that era of Giants baseball. Bumgarner has not been able to find the success in Arizona that he had in San Francisco. Prior to joining Arizona Bumgarner never had a ERA higher than four. In his three plus seasons in Arizona he has never had an ERA lower than four. Part of that was that Arizona has been in rebuilding mode for most of that run. Arizona now has a winning record and is trying to compete and Bumgarner has a 10 ERA with more walks than strikeouts. It should not be a surprise when Arizona made this move below.
Bumgarner if he did come to Texas would likely serve in a similar role to what the team expected Jake Odorizzi to serve. A swing man who comes in from the pen. The thought I keep coming back to about Bumgarner is where is he an improvement on the players currently in the roles. He is not better than anyone currently in the rotation. He is not pitching better than Dunning or Ragans. He is not better than Will Smith or anyone in the late innings.
I get it if Bochy wants to bring him in and if that is the case then I will trust his judgement. Bochy knows Bumgarner. He managed Bumgarner during his best seasons. If he wants to see if anything is there then I will be all about trusting Bochy.
I do not see Texas pursuing a trade since Bumgarner was designated for assignment. If anything they will sign him to a minor league contract and send him to Round Rock and see how he pitches for the Express. If he can put up good numbers there, maybe call him up in May.
Truthfully, his career might be over. We saw with Keuchel last year that getting it back when the arm goes is hard. Bumgarner's arm might be done. He has mainly been a fastball and cutter pitcher. The problem is that velocity on both pitches is under 90mph. He has spent his entire career having hitters struggle against his cutter, but now they are hitting it with a .375 batting average against that pitch.
The reason for the dip in velocity can be tied back to the fact that Bumgarner was over 200 innings seven times from 2011-2019. That does not include the postseason innings he threw in 2010, 2012, 2014, and the short run in 2016. If it is over he will join teammates Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum as players who had shorter careers than was expected of them. Matt Cain was done at age 32, Tim Lineceum was effectively done by age 32, and now Bumgarner might be done at age 33.