Chicago Cubs: Breaking down the latest free agent rumors

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Bumgarner likely isn’t a fit for Chicago in 2020

As much as I’d like to see Jon Lester pass the torch to Madison Bumgarner as the team’s go-to left-hander next year, that’s probably not in the cards.

Projections have the longtime San Francisco ace slated for a four-year deal in the $70-80 million range. In other words, barring some major moves to shed payroll, likely out of the Cubs’ preferred price range. Epstein declined to offer outgoing left-hander Cole Hamels a qualifying offer – and, despite the fact Bumgarner is younger – it’s hard to see him dedicating even more money to his replacement.

The big southpaw bounced back after a pair of injury-shortened seasons in 2017 and 2018 to eclipse the 200-inning mark and average north of a strikeout per frame this year. He worked to a respectable 3.90 FIP and 1.127 WHIP in a league-leading 34 outings which, while a far cry from his dominant days earlier in his career, still offer a lot to any club.

According to the latest rumors, the Atlanta Braves are looking to add Bumgarner to the mix. The North Carolina native would undoubtedly love to play closer to his North Carolina home – and the Braves could use a stabilizing force in their still-young rotation.

Atlanta having Bumgarner, one of this generation’s premier postseason pitchers, in tow would only boost their chances of not only returning to the postseason in 2020 – but getting over the hump and appearing in a World Series for the first time since 1999.