It’s safe to say Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner will be one of the hottest commodities available leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. Bumgarner – set to turn 30 the day after the deadline (Aug. 1) – is among the game’s most accomplished hurlers in both the regular season and the playoffs, and he’s not under contract past this season. Thanks to the latter point, the out-of-contention Giants may elect to part with Bumgarner, who has been with the organization since it chose him 10th overall in the 2007 draft.
Going back to his 2010 debut in the majors, Bumgarner owns a sterling 3.07 ERA/3.26 FIP with 8.75 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 43.8 percent groundball rate in 1,712 1/3 innings. Bumgarner has added 102 /3 innings of 2.11 ERA playoff pitching to his resume, making him one of the game’s go-to hurler’s in key situations. He hasn’t pitched in the postseason since 2016, though, and hasn’t resembled the durable ace he once did earlier in his career.
Bumgarner amassed at least 200 innings of high-quality run prevention from 2011-16, but a dirt bike crash limited him to 111 frames in 2017, and a fractured pinky held him to 129 2/3 innings last season. All told, since Bumgarner’s six-year run of excellence came to an end, he has recorded a 3.46 ERA/3.88 FIP with 8.12 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 40.8 percent grounder mark over 314 2/3 innings.
As shown by his output over the past few seasons, Bumgarner has remained a solid starter even as the Giants have fallen out of contention. Bumgarner’s not the ace-caliber option he once was, though, and with a few months’ control left (on a $12MM salary), San Francisco’s not in position to demand a king’s ransom for MadBum if it deals him in the next two months. The Giants don’t seem like a team that’s close to returning to glory, however, and they own of baseball’s worst farm systems. With that in mind, trading Bumgarner to bolster the franchise’s collection of young talent before the end of July could be a logical move for the organization.
If the Giants take the plunge and attempt to part with Bumgarner, there are several potential fits for the franchise icon. That said, one possible suitor may exit the mix by signing free-agent southpaw Dallas Keuchel, who could ink a contract any second from now, and Bumgarner’s eight-team no-trade clause means he’ll have a certain amount of say in where he goes next. Those factor’s won’t kill interest in Bumgarner, however, as shown below (in alphabetical order)….
- Angels: The Halos have gotten little from their rotation this season, but the Mike Trout-led club is still just 2 1/2 games out of wild-card position. That doesn’t mean the Angels will be in the Bumgarner sweepstakes, but if they really want to push for a playoff spot, they’ll need to upgrade their rotation. Free-agent signings Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill simply haven’t worked out to this point, leaving the Angels with a need for an established veteran in their starting five.
- Astros: Keuchel, Charlie Morton and the injured Lance McCullers Jr. have all left Houston’s rotation since last season, leaving Wade Miley, Brad Peacock and Corbin Martin to pick up the pieces behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. That’s not a bad group by any means, but Verlander and Cole act as the rising tide that lifts all boats. Bumgarner would look pretty nice behind them, though his limited no-trade clause gives him the right to nix a Giants-Astros deal.
- Braves: Atlanta’s one of the teams Bumgarner could block a trade to, but as a childhood Braves fan who grew up in the South (North Carolina), it’s tough to see him blocking a deal to Georgia. The need’s obvious for the Braves, whose rotation has lacked answers behind Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Julio Teheran this season.
- Brewers: Milwaukee’s rotation took a couple hits over the weekend in the form of injuries to Gio Gonzalez and Jhoulys Chacin, the latter of whom has trudged through a terrible season. Only Gonzalez, Brandon Woodruff, Zach Davies and Chase Anderson have given the Brewers’ rotation passable production this season, which leaves room for Bumgarner. However, they’re on Bumgarner’s no-trade list.
- Cardinals: There hasn’t been a lot to like in St. Louis’ shaky rotation this year, which could lead to a Bumgarner acquisition. The Redbirds are on his no-trade list, though.
- Mets: Whether the disappointing Mets would make an aggressive move to repair their rotation is in question, but the need exists. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz could use a better complement than Jason Vargas.
- Padres: San Diego has been on the hunt for a front-line starter since the winter, and Bumgarner could fit the bill if the team’s bullish enough on him. The Padres, as an NL West rival, are certainly familiar enough with Bumgarner. He’d clearly strengthen a group which hasn’t received much from anyone but Chris Paddack, Joey Lucchesi, Matt Strahm or Eric Lauer. It’s worth noting the Padres are monitoring the workloads of Paddack and Strahm, which could limit their impact as the season progresses.
- Phillies: This has been a rather underwhelming season for Philadelphia’s rotation, including potential ace Aaron Nola. There’s obviously space for Bumgarner, though he’d have to approve a trade to the Phillies.
- Rangers: This is a long shot, but the Rangers are unexpectedly in wild-card contention and would benefit from Bumgarner. He’d join a team whose rotation has gotten little aside from Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Ariel Jurado (over a mere three starts in Jurado’s case).
- Rays: The opener method has worked well for Tampa Bay, but the club has turned to that strategy largely because it’s lacking an adequate supply of credible starters. Bumgarner would give the Rays another legitimate traditional starter alongside Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Morton, assuming Glasnow returns this summer from a forearm strain.
- Red Sox: The reigning world champs are on Bumgarner’s no-trade list, but there’s a need for a rotation stabilizer in Beantown. Chris Sale hasn’t been his usual ace-like self, Nathan Eovaldi has been injured, and Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez have only offered back-end production to this point. The luxury tax is a concern for the Red Sox, though – they’re at upward of $251MM in that regard, per Jason Martinez of Roster Resource, and will pay a 75 percent tax for every dollar spent over the $246MM mark while losing 10 spots in the 2020 draft.
- Rockies: Colorado’s rotation was a strength last year, but that hasn’t been the case this season despite the best efforts of German Marquez and Jon Gray. The club just demoted 2018 Cy Young contender Kyle Freeland to the minors. He, like Bumgarner, is a lefty.
- Twins: Judging by their interest in Keuchel, we know the first-place Twins aren’t content with their rotation. Bumgarner would fit in nicely in a quintet that hasn’t received much production after Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez.
- Yankees: New York’s yet another contender on Bumgarner’s no-trade list. That aside, the Yankees should be on the lookout for another starter. Ace Luis Severino hasn’t pitched at all this season on account of a lat strain, while No. 2 starter James Paxton has never been the most durable option. Meanwhile, 2019 standout Domingo German hasn’t exceeded 100 innings in a season since 2014 – when he was a Single-A pitcher – and the soon-to-be 39-year-old CC Sabathia’s hardly an endless source of innings in the twilight of his career.
Of the 14 teams listed above, some are better positioned to land Bumgarner than others, as shown in the most recent farm system rankings of Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs. Judging by the amount of potential suitors for Bumgarner, though, the Giants should get a respectable package for the franchise icon if they move him. Two end-of-July deadlines ago, the Rangers sent righty Yu Darvish to the Dodgers for three players, including then-top 100 prospect Willie Calhoun. The Rangers followed that up by moving lefty Cole Hamels to the Cubs last year for three players, though no one from the trio was a premium prospect at the time. While Bumgarner won’t bring back an enormous return this summer, he ought to warrant something along the lines of what Darvish landed the Rangers.
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