Pitchers and catchers may be reporting, but there are a lot of free agents left


Today is cool in that, for many teams, it’s pitchers and catchers reporting day. But it’s not so cool for all sorts of players still sitting in free agent limbo. Indeed, it seems like there are a lot more players — and especially a lot more good or at least useful players — still looking for work than usually is the case in mid-to-late February.

Some of this is because players are asking too much. Some of it is because players may still have draft pick compensation tied to them as a result of their rejecting a qualifying offer. There are, for any given player, reasons for why they’re still unemployed. It just seems like a lot of ’em. Among the notables, either in quality or at least in name recognition:

Dexter Fowler
Ian Desmond
David Freese
Austin Jackson
Alfredo Simon
Juan Uribe
Pedro Alvarez
Domonic Brown
Jeff Francoeur

Some of those dudes, like Francoeur and Freese, are just roster filler. Others are fliers or reclamation projects like Brown. Others like Fowler and Desmond, however, seem like dudes who could really help a lot of teams right now. Either way, they’re all names you likely would’ve bet would be on someone’s roster by February 17. And you have to figure they and their agents are getting antsy.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

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The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.

Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.

As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.

Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.

The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”