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Front Page: Free Agent Faceoff: Madison Bumgarner Is Not Who You Think He Is Edition

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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 02:30 PM

With Zack Wheeler coming off the board, Twins Territory seems to have attached to Madison Bumgarner as the must-have free agent of the offseason. Why? Here’s a look at how MadBum stacks up against two much less heralded pitchers on the free agent market.Bumgarner’s pedigree in the postseason is undisputed, but he hasn’t appeared in a playoff game since 2016. That was the same season ByungHo Park was on the Twins. Doesn’t that feel like forever ago?

If you want to cling to MadBum’s October heroics, there’s probably no convincing you that he’s not The Guy. For those of you willing to look past that, I’ve picked two free agents to compare Bumgarner to.

As a two-time All-Star, Julio Teheran has some name recognition, but I still sense Twins fans would view him as a consolation prize on this year’s market. Homer Bailey also has some name recognition, but not for good reasons. He’s been my favorite example to use this offseason, mainly because the common knee-jerk reaction to him is “ew, gross.” I’d imagine Twins fans would see him a Terry Ryan-era dumpster dive type signing.

Let’s take a look at some of the 2019 numbers.

ERA- (which is league and park adjusted)
86 Teheran
93 Bumgarner
99 Bailey

Slash line against
.245/.291/.426 (.717 OPS) Bumgarner
.229/.328/.389 (.717 OPS) Teheran
.256/.316/.403 (.719 OPS) Bailey

K%
24.1 Bumgarner
21.5 Teheran
21.4 Bailey

Those numbers alone build a fair case to consider these three pitchers to be of a similar class, but Bumgarner absolutely destroyed the pitchers he faced in 2019. Check out what happens when we take them out of the equation.

Slash line vs. non-pitchers
.256/.315/.404 (.719 OPS) Bailey
.225/.327/.393 (.720 OPS) Teheran
.262/.309/.455 (.764 OPS) Bumgarner

K% vs. non-pitchers
21.4 Bailey
21.3 Bumgarner
21.1 Teheran

Next, let’s run through some metrics that measure quality of contact.

2019 xwOBA
.316 Bumgarner
.318 Bailey
.323 Teheran

Hard hit % (95+ mph)
35.4 Teheran
38.7 Bailey
41.5 Bumgarner

Barrels/PA % (barrel = 98+ mph exit velo, 26-30 degree launch)
4.0 Bailey
4.5 Teheran
6.3 Bumgarner

And here’s a fun little exercise I’ve been toying around with. Below is an illustration of every home run hit at Target Field (the bright green dots) and all the batted balls surrendered by these three pitches overlaid atop the dimensions of Target Field. First is Bumgarner, then Teheran followed by Bailey.

Download attachment: HRs1.gif

This isn’t exactly a scientific way to look at the batted ball data, as it’s not like these pitchers would make all their starts at Target Field, but I thought it was an interesting way to present some of the batted ball info.

But, but, but … Bumgarner was certainly better under pressure, right? Well …

WPA
1.20 Teheran
0.15 Bailey
-0.20 Bumgarner

Clutch (per FanGraphs)
1.25 Teheran
-0.52 Bailey
-1.14 Bumgarner

Slash against in two outs, RISP situations
.200/.286/.340 (.626) Bailey
.231/.326/.359 (.685) Teheran
.319/.397/.478 (.875) Bumgarner

MLB Trade Rumors predicted Bumgarner would get a four-year, $72 million deal and Teheran would get two years and $18 million. Bailey did not crack their top 50 list, but Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs had him pegged for a one-year, $7 million contract.

Given their 2019 performances, the only reason I can see why there’s such a dramatic difference in their perceived market value is due to Bumgarner’s legacy. Remind me again, how many actual wins is that worth?

For a more positive outlook on Bumgarner, check out Patrick Wozniak’s recent article here at Twins Daily.

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#2 Cooper Carlson

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 02:46 PM

Homer Bailey? Ew, gross!
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#3 willmarmn

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 02:46 PM

Great article!  Lets not pay up for historic excellence!!!  I see Littlell, Bodnak and Smeltzer as all having significant potential as mid-level starters, with Little having the most potential based on extensive success and innings in the minors!  I have not seen whether the Twins are thinking about stretching him out for a trial as a starter?

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#4 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 02:56 PM

I won't be unhappy if Bumgarner is never a Twin. I could handle a Tehran signing. Maybe they heavily pursue Strasburg. But please lets stay away from Homer Bailey. Last season WAS his bounce back season, and it still wasn't very good. Homer Bailey stinks.

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#5 SwainZag

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 03:06 PM

 

Great article!  Lets not pay up for historic excellence!!!  I see Littlell, Bodnak and Smeltzer as all having significant potential as mid-level starters, with Little having the most potential based on extensive success and innings in the minors!  I have not seen whether the Twins are thinking about stretching him out for a trial as a starter?

 

I really think Littell is done as a starter.He looked like he could turn into a a pretty nice bullpen asset as the season progressed last year.  

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#6 Badsmerf

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 03:11 PM

Only looking at 2019 is disingenuous. Last year was the first full year for Bum since 2016. He is 30. A 5 year $100 Million might do it, and if he returns to form it is a steal. Buy low if he's healthy. Teheran is consistent. I'd consider a nice 3-4 year deal for him too. He isn't a front of the rotation guy, but will help get to the playoffs.
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#7 Monkeypaws

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 03:15 PM

Was just looking at Johnny Cueto's numbers https://www.baseball...cuetojo01.shtml, a good cautionary tale on paying big money for past performance for 30ish pitchers with lots of mileage on the arm.

 

Not that I wouldn't welcome MB to the Twins with open arms.

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#8 MN_ExPat

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 03:26 PM

This article seems a little dark, even for you Tom ;).

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#9 Dman

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 03:54 PM

Thanks for this article!My gut just doesn't think Bumgarner will be worth the money he will be getting.At this point I don't think there is a way to get value out of a Bumgarner signing.I like him but if it takes 20M a year AAV for 4 or 5 years I don't see him living up to that.Maybe I am wrong and he will rebound and be great the next couple of years but something tells me he more likely is who he is at this point than who he was before.If he is who he is then our number 5 starters are almost as good.

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#10 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 04:09 PM

Bumgarner is not as good as Wheeler. We went 5/100 on him. 4/76 is where I'd go on madbum. I could see a 5th year if it was a team option of 19mil with a 2-3mil buyout.

 

But our AAV offer to Bumgarner should be less than Wheeler imo.

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#11 Tom Froemming

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 04:28 PM

 

Homer Bailey? Ew, gross!

EXACTLY! :)

 

Great article!  Lets not pay up for historic excellence!!!  I see Littlell, Bodnak and Smeltzer as all having significant potential as mid-level starters, with Little having the most potential based on extensive success and innings in the minors!  I have not seen whether the Twins are thinking about stretching him out for a trial as a starter?

I'd really love to see Littell get another shot at starting, I went so far as to put that in my offseason blueprint, but I would bet against the Twins going that direction.

 

I won't be unhappy if Bumgarner is never a Twin. I could handle a Tehran signing. Maybe they heavily pursue Strasburg. But please lets stay away from Homer Bailey. Last season WAS his bounce back season, and it still wasn't very good. Homer Bailey stinks.

Only time will tell if the splitter helps Bailey have a late-career renaissance or if that new-look version of Bailey will be less effective the second time around. 

 

I don't really love Bailey as a Twins target either, but if you're going to say his 2019 wasn't very good, you kinda have to say the same about MadBum, right? That's my main objective with bringing Bailey into the conversation.

 

Only looking at 2019 is disingenuous. Last year was the first full year for Bum since 2016. He is 30. A 5 year $100 Million might do it, and if he returns to form it is a steal. Buy low if he's healthy. 

I think if you're going to overlook past injury/durability concerns and be willing to offer that kind of a contract, Hyun-Jin Ryu would be the guy to chase.

 

This article seems a little dark, even for you Tom ;).

Teheran and Bailey's agents would disagree :)

 

Thanks for this article!My gut just doesn't think Bumgarner will be worth the money he will be getting.At this point I don't think there is a way to get value out of a Bumgarner signing.I like him but if it takes 20M a year AAV for 4 or 5 years I don't see him living up to that.Maybe I am wrong and he will rebound and be great the next couple of years but something tells me he more likely is who he is at this point than who he was before.If he is who he is then our number 5 starters are almost as good.

The years are the scariest part to me. The Twins have money to spend, but you only have five rotation spots. It's certainly possible that MadBum rebounds to his 2016 self, you never now, but I'd rather not commit one of those rotations spots for the next 4-5 years to a guy I'm hoping not only avoids regression, but also reverts to a previous version of himself.

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#12 darin617

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 04:30 PM

I would hate to be the team that gives him the 4 year deal for close to 100M. Those last 2 years would be hard to swallow.

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#13 tony&rodney

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 04:37 PM

Great article. The Twins need to offer Cole $245/7yrs. Done.

If that doesn't work, sign Bumgarner for $90/4yrs and Teheran for $16/2 yrs and Wood for $16/2yrs. The paradigm of rational thought takes a break this winter because starting pitching is dear right now. A Cole (or the other scenario) signing finishes the front office' job for now. The Twins can rotate Garver, Gonzalez, and others through 1B. This is their one shot - the core gets supplemented and the young pups get a year to develop. 

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#14 wabene

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 05:04 PM

I stand corrected Madbum Schmadbum. Sign the Ayatollah guy from Teheran!
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#15 rv78

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 05:20 PM

I would much rather see the Twins sign Ryu than Bumgarner. Ryu is in his prime and could have a breakout season anytime. Bumgarner is past his prime and is starting to regress. As for Bailey and Teheran forget about 'em. Neither one is an improvement over what we had. Remember, they said they were going to go after "Impact Pitching". So far they have gotten ZERO of that.

 

So they offered 100M to Wheeler. Offers don't mean crap if the guy doesn't sign.

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#16 Twins33

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 05:42 PM

I’ve never had any expectations that Bumgarner will ever be more than a three from now on. I said that when people wanted to trade for him during the deadline. We all would obviously want him to be better than that, but it’s probably not likely.

I prefer Ryu (I actually prefer both Ryu AND Bumgarner), but Bumgarner would be an improvement on having two rookies in the rotation. Sign one. Sign both. Don’t strike out on both unless that means you nabbed Cole or Strasburg instead.

#17 Darius

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 06:17 PM

I don’t think Madbum would fare very well in an AL stadium with a short porch in LF.

Ever since Gleeman attempted to enlightened everyone to the reality of Madbum around the trade deadline, I’ve been anti Madbum.

This is all relative, of course. Get him on a 1-2 year deal for #3 money, I’m all in. Paying him $20 million/year for 4/5 years, given how that would totally hamstring this FO going forward.....awful move.

If I knew I was a fan of a club that was passionate about investing in a quality on-field product, I’d think it’s a risk worth taking. But, I’m guessing it’ll the the last “big splash” signing for some time with a lot of younger guys needing extensions in the near future (Berrios, Buxton, possibly more). I’d rather it be a player that is a known commodity. Not a prayer of a return to 4 years ago.
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#18 DocBauer

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 06:19 PM

FWIW, on the last Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron stated he had heard rumors that the Twins may be higher on Ryu than Bumgarner. He was clear there was nothing definitive however. Just thought I'd toss it out there.
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#19 nicksaviking

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 06:30 PM

Thanks Tom. I was in the fence about Bumgarner to begin with, now I’m leaning against.

I don’t like Teheran though. I want want a guy who could take the next step and lead a playoff rotation, even if that chance isn’t terribly high, and I don’t think a guy who throws 89-90 even has that chance.

#20 drivlikejehu

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Posted 07 December 2019 - 06:35 PM

I know it's just one system and is an inexact science but . . . Steamer projects Bumgarner and Thorpe to have nearly identical run prevention skills in 2020 (Thorpe actually a little better). It's hard not to look at that and get a bit queasy at the thought of paying $20 million + per year. 

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