By Haley Smilow
After trading Zack Greinke last season to the Houston Astros at the 11th hour, the Arizona Diamondbacks saved roughly $54 million, but still needed a leader.
“When we traded Zack away last year, we knew we were missing something at the top of our rotation, and we just didn’t put that as something we wanted to regain,” General Manager Mike Hazen says.
The team found a leader in Madison Bumgarner, who signed with the D-backs for five years for $85 million. Hazen says the 10-year Giant was a logical fit.
“We would be silly not to pursue it,” Hazen says. “We knew that, over the next couple of years, finding somebody to anchor our rotation was going to be something we needed.
“That’s why we pursued Madison.”
Bumgarner says it was difficult to leave behind his San Francisco fans, who had been with him for a decade and through three World Series championships. He’s excited to move on through.
“I am thrilled to be a Diamondback, and I’m just really excited to get started in this process,” he says.
Bumgarner took several things into consideration when making his decision to sign with the D-backs.
“First off, they’ve got a really good team and a lot of young guys who are coming up,” Bumgarner says. “I think that they are headed in a really good direction and they play hard. I would say that they have a bunch of grinders on this team—guys who don’t take any pitch off and they are a hard-nose group of guys. They also play what, in my mind, is my brand of baseball. They play the way that I like to play.”
His decision was also based on the team’s location.
“I’ve got to spend a lot of time here, and it’s a beautiful place,” Bumgarner says.
“A ton of people want to come here and move to the area, but to me it just feels like where I am supposed to be. Because I’ve played out here for so long, I have lots of friends out here. It’s truly like home to me.”
Bumgarner has friends in Stephen Vogt and Matt Herges, his former catcher and pitching coach, respectively. Vogt signed a one-year contract in November with the D-backs. Herges was hired on October 31 by the D-backs as their pitching coach.
“I’m excited to have those guys here,” he says. “Vogt is awesome. He is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, and I was only with him for a year. Herges is going to be a really, really good pitching coach. I’m excited about it.”
Bumgarner will serve in a capacity beyond pitching—role model for younger pitchers.
Bumgarner and Hazen aren’t the only one’s excited about the start of the 2020 season. Manager Tony Lovullo has kind words to say about Bumgarner.
“He speaks for himself,” Lovullo says. “He has an incredible track record. He has won world championships and he is able to get himself out there every fifth day. That is something that we are looking forward to, and I know the 25 guys who are going to be playing around him are excited. Coming to the ballpark that day, I’ll be looking forward to watching him go to work. I’m thrilled that he is here, and it is an honor to be sitting up here with him. I’m glad that we are here together.”