The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has the details on Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner’s limited no-trade list, which, per the five-year, $35MM extension (plus 2018 and ’19 option years) he signed prior to the 2013 season, may contain up to eight teams. The four-time all-star may reportedly block trades to the Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Yankees, Phillies, and Cardinals at the upcoming trade deadline.
If the list seems curious for its contender bent, it’s by design: Bumgarner’s reps seem to have carefully selected the teams most apt to pursue the lefty for a pennant push later this season. High-profile players can often negotiate some sort of compensatory bonus if they’re moved to a team on their restricted list at any point during that contract, and the former World Series hero seems no exception.
Atlanta, it seems, is the dead giveaway here – Bumgarner grew up deep in the North Carolina hills, the nether regions of the far-reaching heart of Braves country, and was raised a die-hard Atlanta devotee. He’d surely jump at the opportunity to join a pennant-chasing Braves team, one that will likely have rising stars Mike Soroka and Max Fried on a strict innings limit as the season progresses, though whether the suddenly stingy Atlanta front office will have interest is an altogether different conversation.
As Alex Pavlovic of NBC Bay Area explains, there’s been no indication that Bumgarner will block deals to any of the teams included on his list, though explicit comments from the hurler on the matter are as yet in the dark. SNY’s Andy Martino tweets that the Yankees, Bumgarner’s most-connected suitor, are “not particularly high” on the lefty, an impression that could certainly shift with another couple months’ strong performance, coupled with a continued depletion of the team’s starting staff.
After two injury-riddled seasons, in which Bumgarner’s peripherals slumped considerably, the one-time ace has rekindled some of his mid-decade mojo: his 84 xFIP- and 91.8 average fastball velocity are his best marks in the categories since the 2015 season, and his 11.5% swinging strike rate has jumped to above his career average. He’s again striking out over a batter per nine, and his BB rate has swung back to barely-traceable levels, with the 1.45 mark actually the lowest of his career.
If there’s an area of concern, it’s the ground-ball rate, which has plummeted to a career-low 36.8%, leaving the 10-year vet more vulnerable than ever to the longball. There’s also, of course, his status as a rental: teams are more loath than ever to give up high quality talent for just two-plus months of even a star player, and Bumgarner, even during his heyday, was always closer to third starter than ace.
His postseason reputation precedes – no, surrounds – him, though modern front offices won’t fall prey to the blue ox beside his Paul Bunyan October lore, and are now much more likely to consider the sample in which it was done. Indeed, Bumgarner’s 93 career xFIP- in the postseason – interestingly a mark considerably worse than late-season whipping boy Clayton Kershaw’s 82 figure – is a fact which, if ever relevant at the outset, almost certainly won’t be dismissed in considerations.
There’s also the matter of Giants majority owner Charles Johnson, of whom Bumgarner is said to be a favorite, and an ownership group that’s always willing to shell out for hometown stars of seasons past. The Bumgarner saga may drag on well into the summer, but it’s still a distinct possibility the lefty will stay in San Fran for the long haul.