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Braves “have made Bumgarner a priority,” per report

Wednesday afternoon offseason rumormongering

Atlanta Braves v San Franciso Giants Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

Here are some facts:

  • It is the MLB offseason.
  • Madison Bumgarner is a free agent.
  • The Braves will probably sign at least one more free agent this offseason.

Here’s some reported speculation from Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area:

[Bumgarner] knows the Braves, the team closest to his North Carolina home will call early.

That last part is the greatest concern to any Giants officials looking for a reunion. Per league sources, the Braves have made Bumgarner a priority and planned to quickly communicate that to the left-hander. Atlanta sniffed around before the trade deadline and they are the clear favorite if Bumgarner does end up elsewhere.

It’s hard to take stuff like this seriously for many reasons, but these jump out at me:

  • “League sources” could technically mean just about anything, but one thing it definitely does not have to mean is “sources within the Braves’ Front Office,” so in other words, wild mass guessing. I also tend to interpret (perhaps wrongly?) “league sources” as meaning “sources within the league office” — who would have no idea or particular interest in what the Braves are or are not planning on doing.
  • Madison Bumgarner has draft pick compensation attached to him, courtesy of a qualifying offer. The Braves punted on various free agent options last offseason with the same circumstances, and while they may not have punted specifically for that reason, the reality is that Bumgarner’s services come with an annoying surcharge. The Braves waited until June to sign Dallas Keuchel despite a torn-to-tatters rotation at the beginning of the season; I’m not sure why they’re particularly incentivized to pounce on a player with a similar surcharge before June at this point.
  • Bumgarner, who will likely be projected for right around 2 WAR for 2020 across the array of projection systems, is more of a complementary piece than a big addition at this point. I’d find it bewildering if the Braves were making an average player “a priority” in lieu of actual above-average contributors. And, if the argument is that the Braves know they can’t afford the pearls of free agency and have to fight over second-tier options, Bumgarner’s name seems doubly weird, as he might be one of the few second-tier options that could command a premium due to his history.

MLB Trade Rumors projects Bumgarner to get a $72 million, four-year deal, a very pricy contract that seems to be the opposite of the modus operandi of Alex Anthopoulos and his staff thus far. Crowdsourced estimates from Fangraphs are similar. The Braves paying market rate, if not somewhat more, for any free agent seems like a fairly terrible idea for their not-particularly-robustly-endowed ballclub, and doing so to fill a rotation spot with an average-type player (who costs a draft pick) doesn’t seem like a great strategy for resource commitment.

I guess we’ll see, but I’m gonna chalk this up to, “It’s a Wednesday in November and I’ve got nothing to report, chief.” I hope. I really, really hope.

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