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In case you didn't know, Madison Bumgarner was a starting pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I heard that the team had cut ties with him after designating him for assignment. I did some research and found mixed information. Some sources say that the d-backs cut Bumgarner because he wasn't pitching well. I somewhat disagree with that being a legitimate reason to cut someone, considering another Diamondback starting pitcher, and my favorite pitcher of all time, Zac Gallen, was not doing well either (this was at the beginning of the season) and they didn't even consider cutting him. Of course, Gallen probably isn't a great example, considering he's younger than Bumgarner and will last longer than him, so he wouldn't be worth cutting.

Back on topic, other than not doing well, why did the diamondbacks cut Madison Bumgarner?

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  • Bumgarner's best of his 4 starts was barely better than Gallen's worst (season-opening) start, and Gallen quickly recovered. There's no comparison at all.
    – chepner
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 13:46

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other than not doing well, why did the diamondbacks cut Madison Bumgarner?

I'm not sure there needs to be an "other" here. Teams usually have five starting pitchers. If one isn't performing well, that's a lot of potential losses for for the team. (And it appears that neither the Arizona staff nor Bumgarner thought that moving him to the bullpen was going to be useful).

Bumgarner was not pitching well against major league hitters. You compared him to Gallen, but Bumgarner was doing even worse at the beginning.

In Gallen's first four games, he gave up 16 runs in 16.1 innings. Bumgarner gave up 20 runs in 16.2 (along with more homers).

The bigger problem besides him not pitching well in 2023 is that Bumgarner hasn't really been great in previous years either for Arizona. The start can't just be written off as an anomaly that should pass. He had an ERA+ of 82 in 2022, whereas Gallen had a fairly nice 158. The slow start was appearing to just confirm that Bumgarner isn't a good bet to pitch well in the near future.

It's likely the team didn't see a path that Bumgarner was suddenly going to improve and freeing up a spot for someone else was worth it.

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  • If it helps to stop everyone from downvoting, I'll remove the comparison. Commented May 10, 2023 at 20:39
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According to an article in The Athletic (paywalled), the issue wasn't simply Bumgarner's poor performance on the field. It was compounded by him refusing to accept advice from the Diamondbacks coaching staff on issues such as mechanical adjustments and pitch selection. He also had a history, since 2021, of disregarding the team's scouting reports on opposing hitters.

As the author puts it:

Eventually, after years of trying to return the left-hander to even a shadow of the standout pitcher he was as a Giant, Arizona threw up its hands and decided to let Bumgarner sink or swim on his own. Ultimately, he sank.

"Behind the scenes of Madison Bumgarner's struggles with the Diamondbacks" by Zach Buchanan, The Athletic, May 22, 2023.

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Because Bumgarner wasn't pitching well and had a salary of $18M. By cutting him, they free up that money to spend on players who are actually going to make the team better. Allen's salary is "only" $5.6M so there's a lot less benefit in cutting him.

I somewhat disagree with [not pitching well] being a legitimate reason to cut someone

This is honestly a bizarre statement; as with any other professionals, sportsmen (and women) are paid to perform a job and if they're not doing that job well, they risk losing their job.

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    Bumgarner is released, but AZ is still responsible for the remaining $37M on the contract. I don't think they save any money by releasing him.
    – BowlOfRed
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 19:12
  • Also, that was only the opening sentence for my next statement. Commented May 10, 2023 at 19:14
  • @BowlOfRed Because Bumgarner isn't on the 40 man roster, his salary doesn't count towards the CBT.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 22:35
  • True. But AZ is nowhere near CBT limits. Even if MB $18M salary counted they're still more than $100M under threshold for 2023.
    – BowlOfRed
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 22:48
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    @BowlOfRed It's a little more complicated than that. There are scenarios where he signs with another team that will assume some or all of his salary, none of which come into play until AZ designates him for assignment. Some chance of shedding the salary is better than none, and keeping him has an opportunity cost of tying up a roster spot that could be filled by someone more effective.
    – chepner
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 13:40

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