We’ll continue our evening trip around the summer starting pitching market in San Francisco, where top rental rotation piece Madison Bumgarner resides. Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link) updated the market for the burly southpaw, cataloging a variety of suitors.
The Astros, Braves, and Brewers are newly added entrants to the mix, joining the already reported Twins and Yankees. We’ve certainly seen many or all of these teams cited as possibilities — among others, as MLBTR’s Connor Byrne explored a month back — but this is the clearest indication yet of the kind of competition that could be developing.
All that said, there are limits to Bumgarner’s appeal, as Rosenthal explores. We’ve hashed out many of the pluses and minuses of late; suffice to say that there are good reasons to think the long-time star still has some gas in the tank, but no real reason to believe he’s the stud he once was.
Beyond that, there are also some clear alternatives floating around who’ll also draw attention from contenders. On the rental side, the Mets’ Zack Wheeler (latest rumors) has emerged as a younger, lower-salaried, and arguably higher-upside possibility. Teams that prefer future control could look to Marcus Stroman (latest rumors), Matt Boyd (latest rumors), and perhaps even Trevor Bauer (latest rumors).
Bumgarner’s no-trade rights could certainly play into the equation here, as he’ll have the ability to block deals to most of the interested teams. As Rosenthal originally reported a few months back, the savvy veteran put his eight-team list to full use by naming a host of clear contenders (Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals).
As Rosenthal rightly notes today, there’s also not much reason to think that MadBum would decline to facilitate a move. Beyond the obvious appeal of another shot at postseason glory after a few seasons away, the 29-year-old stands to shed the qualifying offer entering free agency.
The qualifying offer issue may not seem like a major factor for a player of Bumgarner’s stature, but the recent experience of Dallas Keuchel shows it’s still of real importance. Though he placed fourth on the latest free-agent power ranking from MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, just edging Wheeler, Bumgarner still faces plenty of variability in his ultimate earning power.
Though Bumgarner left his last start with an elbow contusion, it seems he escaped a worrying injury. There’ll be plenty of time still in the run-up to the deadline for Bumgarner to show off his form to interested clubs, including those listed above.