The St. Louis Cardinals passed on free-agent lefty Madison Bumgarner. What does his deal mean for the other free-agent pitchers on the market?
After doing nothing at the Winter Meetings last week, the St. Louis Cardinals are seemingly on thin ice with a part of the fanbase. As the only team in the entire MLB who hasn’t made any roster additions at all, people are somewhat rightfully angry.
The Cardinals may not have done anything but they were at least connected to many pitchers in the starting pitching market, specifically those from the left side.
There were a bunch of options including Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, and then some lower-tier pitchers. Obviously Ryu (coming off a second-place Cy Young finish) is the biggest fish of the bunch, but all were on the Cardinals radar.
On Sunday, Madison Bumgarner signed a five-year, $85M deal with the Diamondbacks. At first thought, I figured this was something that the Cardinals could’ve matched or even beat. Reports earlier in the offseason suggested the 30-year-old Bumgarner would get north of $100M, but the reality says not.
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I had thought that in the past, because of the booming starting pitching market, the Cardinals would be priced out of acquiring anyone in the middle tier and would instead stick to their normal bargain bin. While lots of fans wanted the Cardinals to sign Bumgarner, his deal might be an encouraging sign for the team’s hopes of getting one of those other left-handed starters.
What I mean is, now that the price for the middle tier of starters on the wrong side of 30 is set, the Cardinals can use that deal as a starting point for talks with the remaining players. My favorite of the bunch would be Keuchel. Most of you may not agree, but the starter bounced back with the Braves last year. He is just 31 and has his Cy Young pedigree.
Ryu scares me for two reasons, 1) he’s got a horrid injury history, and 2) the Cardinals would be buying as high as possible after his stellar 2019.
As far as their prices go, you would have to assume that Ryu is going to get a higher AAV than the $17M per year that Bumgarner got. I wouldn’t bet it’s much more than maybe $22M a year. For Keuchel, you’d have to think that the AAV is going to be at most similar and at least, a few million a year less.
If the Cardinals saw what MadBum got and think they could’ve stomached it (they could’ve), that bodes very well for their chances to get Keuchel or at least an Alex Wood-type player.
It’s frustrating to see a team like the Diamondbacks outbid the Cardinals on Madison Bumgarner but it honestly may not have been their top target. They might’ve not wanted to risk the money and years. In all, I like what this move means for the other free agents on the market that the Cardinals are CONFIRMED to be interested in.