This offseason we’ve heard theories that Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon would give influence in their free-agent decisions to the places where they were reared. But Cole didn’t go home to Southern California and Rendon didn’t go home to Texas.
This proved to be much more narrative than reality. But maybe rearing did play a factor in the free-agent decision of ex-San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner who agreed Sunday to join the Arizona Diamondbacks on a five-year, $85 million contract.
Arizona isn’t where Madison Bumgarner is from, he’s from North Carolina — from a town with a comical number of Bumgarners, if you remember the story about how he once dated a girl named Madison Bumgarner — but Arizona is where his horses are. And that seems to have at least factored into the decision a little bit.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal served up this detail Sunday:
A source close to Bumgarner says the Diamondbacks were his No. 1 choice, provided they could pay him at an appropriate level. As The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly recently noted, Bumgarner has horses in the Phoenix area and loves it there. For Bumgarner, an individualist who cares little about public perception, that and the solid five-year offer were enough.
Likewise, Baggarly tweeted this after the Bumgarner news hit:
It’s very possible Bumgarner left money on the table to sign with Arizona. I’ve been telling folks all winter that the Diamondbacks would be at the top of his list. He and his wife, Ali, love it there. 🐎 https://t.co/23GY1n8oJk
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) December 15, 2019
This might feel like a setup to some kind of horse punchline, but it’s not. Baseball life is the sort of grind that not everybody can handle. Sure, the Bumgarners — Ali matters in this decision too — will continue to be well compensated for living the baseball grind, but when making a decision like this, they should think whatever will make them most comfortable.
Whether that’s schools for kids or being near family, both of which we hear about frequently. Or, in this case, horses.
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