PHOENIX – The up-and-coming Arizona Diamondbacks see themselves as potential contenders in the National League West after a good start to the season.
That optimism forced general manager Mike Hazen to make a tough decision on Thursday.
The D-backs designated four-time All-Star Madison Bumgarner for assignment following his latest shaky start, eating just over $34.4 million of the salary from his $85 million, five-year deal that was signed in 2020.
“I ask our players and staff to have urgency around how we're going to play and attack, so I have to do the same thing,” Hazen said. “That was part of the reason we made a decision. The team has played its butts off over the first three weeks of the season, frankly.”
The move takes Bumgarner off the team's 40-man roster and leaves Arizona seven days to trade the 2014 World Series MVP or else place him on outright waivers. The Diamondbacks announced the move Thursday, a day after Bumgarner allowed seven runs in three innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The big left-hander hasn't lived up to expectations in the desert since signing his long-term deal in 2020. A postseason hero for San Francisco, he has gone 15-32 with a 5.23 ERA in 69 starts and is having his worst season with Arizona.
The 33-year-old has allowed at least five runs in three of his four starts and dropped to 1-3 with a 10.26 ERA after his latest blowup at St. Louis.
“I wish I had some kind of answers,” Bumgarner said after Wednesday’s game. “Not that I’m not going look for them — I’m going to look for them. But right now, I don’t have any for you guys. I wish I did. But I don’t.”
Hazen praised Bumgarner on Thursday, saying the pitcher came to spring training in great shape and did everything he could to improve. There were occasional good moments, but he was never close to the same pitcher he was in San Francisco.
Hazen said he wasn't sure why Bumgarner's steep decline couldn't be stopped.
“We've all lost a lot of sleep over it, trying to answer that question,” Hazen said. “I haven't answered it yet and we're here today, so I don't have the answer for you. It just didn't work out.”
Bumgarner is owed $20.4 million this season and roughly $34.4 million on the remainder of his contract. If he clears waivers, he would be clear to sign with any team for a prorated share of the league minimum of $720,000.
Bumgarner was one of baseball's best pitchers during 11 seasons with the Giants, helping them win three World Series titles. He was a workhorse for San Francisco during that time, going over 200 innings seven times in addition to 16 postseason appearances, including a memorable five-inning save in Game 7 of the '14 Series.
The D-backs have several options to take Bumgarner's spot in the rotation, including prospects Tommy Henry and Brandon Pfaadt. They called up lefty reliever Anthony Misiewicz to bolster the bullpen in the meantime.
AP Sports Writer John Marshall contributed to this report.