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Philadelphia has checked in on free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner

The Philadelphia Phillies are in dire need of starting pitching this winter after nearly all of their starters regressed in 2019.

Phillies starters ranked 23rd in baseball in fWAR last season, and supposed breakout candidates such as Nick Pivetta and Jerad Eickhoff endured subpar seasons in which they were moved to the bullpen.

As such, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Phils could be in the market for a number of arms, including Gerrit Cole. However, Rosenthal also reports that the Phillies have also made contact with San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner:

The Phillies are likely to cast a wide net for starting pitching, and can not be ruled out for the top free agent, right-hander Gerrit Cole. But they also could sign Hamels and another free-agent starter — say, left-hander Madison Bumgarner — for less than half of what it would take to get Cole.

Yes, the Phils have checked in on Bumgarner, and likely are motivated to keep him away from the Braves, their NL East rivals. The Braves are the team closest to Bumgarner’s hometown of Hickory, N.C., and seem a more natural fit for him than the Phillies.

Indeed, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports reported that the Braves have made signing Bumgarner a “priority,” and the Braves are another team with a concerted need–albeit not as great as the Phillies–for pitching.

Bumgarner is only 30 years old. Given that he is one of the younger starters on the market, Bumgarner is sure to draw the attention of a number of contenders hoping to add to their teams and extend their windows.

In spite of concerns over the rising home run and fly ball rates, Bumgarner still posted excellent peripherals and had an increased strikeout rate last season. He is a workhorse and a leader in the clubhouse, and his potential arrival should galvanize any number of teams.