In a Q&A on Thursday, Mark Bowman dropped some bombshells that have gone under the radar but should serve as a stab to the heart of Braves Country. According to Bowman, Madison Bumgarner wanted to take his talents to Atlanta, and Charlie Morton wished to return the Braves last offseason. Yikes.
Now, there are justifications to both to some extent. Bowman said the Braves did not want to go over three years with MadBum this offseason. And before you take a look at his 5-year, $85 million deal, consider that this has been attributed to the tax benefits in Arizona. Don’t ask me; I am not a tax lawyer. They did get a veteran in Cole Hamels on a shorter time commitment, but he’s not the long-term solution fans were hoping for.
Braves Country may be able to get over that miss alone, given Bumgarner’s regression over the past few seasons. But when you couple it with the fact that Alex Anthopoulos passed on Charlie Morton last offseason, it becomes a much tougher pill to swallow.
Sure, the Braves could not have predicted the up and down nature of Mike Foltynewicz in 2019, and they likely thought they had more in the tank with Kevin Gausman. However, keep in mind that at the time, Max Fried and Mike Soroka were still unproven. Morton ended up landing in Tampa Bay on a 2-year, $30 million deal.
Think about it: for less money than what the Braves spent on Dallas Keuchel and Cole Hamels in 2019, they could have had two years of Charlie Morton, who has undoubtedly been more effective than those two the past couple of seasons. On top of that, he was never extended a qualifying offer, which means they would not have had to give up any draft compensation. Perhaps it was the third year vesting option that prompted Alex to say: “I’m out.”
It is hard to question Anthopoulos based on his decisions thus far. With MadBum, it came down to years and future flexibility, and perhaps that will work well for the Braves in the long run. We will see if that is because they plan on re-signing Donaldson, or if they will go about his contract situation with a similar mindset as reported. But you can’t win them all. If former Braves’ farmhand Charlie Morton was in the rotation last season, it might have been a different outcome in the playoffs. After all, he gave up just one earned run in ten innings for the Rays during the postseason.
Sorry Braves Country, I just had to ruin your guys’ Friday evening.