- The Giants have agreed with fifth-rounder Garrett Frechette, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reports (Twitter link). The deal will pay Frechette an $800K bonus, well over double the $371.6K slot value attached to the 146th overall pick. It’s a sizable commitment to the high school outfield/first baseman, who had committed to attend San Diego State. Frechette’s selection spot also outpaced his status in the eyes of pre-draft pundits, as MLB.com had him as the 196th-best prospect in the draft while Baseball America ranked him 214th. This could be due to an injury-filled senior season for Frechette, who displayed some intriguing left-handed power potential when he did take the field.
Considering Will Smith is the subject of this piece, let’s dispense with the obligatory “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reference right away: Smith is treating opposing hitters about as well as Uncle Phil treated Jazz. Between that and the fact that the Giants are way out of contention, Smith stands out as one of the majors’ most obvious trade chips leading up to the July 31 deadline. San Francisco president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is almost sure to part with Smith, a soon-to-be 30-year-old who’s slated to reach free agency after the season.
Smith, a left-handed reliever, has offered nothing but quality production since he shifted to the Royals’ bullpen in 2013. From then through last season, Smith posted a 3.00 ERA/2.81 FIP with 11.94 K/9 and 3.36 BB/9 across 251 2/3 innings divided among Kansas City, Milwaukee and San Francisco. And the 2019 version is arguably the best one yet. In addition to recording a 2.19 ERA/1.97 FIP with 12.77 K/9, 1.82 BB/9, a 46.4 percent groundball rate and a lofty 21.4 percent infield fly rate over 24 2/3 frames, Smith has converted all 14 of his save opportunities.
As you’d expect from Smith’s sterling production, he has been death on batters of either handedness. Lefties have slashed .182/.217/.182 against him, while righties have put up an almost-as-weak .145/.197/.290 line. Hitters have only managed a .234 batting average on balls in play against Smith, which could prove to be unsustainable, but it doesn’t look as if they’re primed to start teeing off on him. Smith’s .220 weighted on-base average ranks fifth among all pitchers, and indicates the .205 real wOBA he has offered is mostly legitimate. Not only is Smith’s xwOBA in the league’s 99th percentile, but his strikeout rate (98th percentile), expected slugging percentage (98th percentile) and expected batting average (93rd percentile) all sit near the very top of the sport.
It’s fair to say the Giants have an ppealing trade piece on their hands in Smith, especially given his reasonable salary ($4.23MM). Smith was already a key deadline piece earlier in his career when the Giants acquired him from the Brewers for two prospects in 2016. Those prospects, Andrew Susac and Phil Bickford, didn’t pan out for the Brewers, but the return was nonetheless a haul at the time. Both Susac and Bickford ranked among the game’s top 65 prospects.
Smith’s a better pitcher now than he was then, but it’s unlikely he’ll bring a similar bounty in this summer’s inevitable trade. He’s only a rental, after all. Still, as at least the most valuable lefty reliever on the block (unless the Indians decide to dangle Brad Hand or the Pirates do the same with Felipe Vazquez), moving him should help the Giants strengthen their fallow farm system. With that said, it’s worth revisiting what the top impending free-agent relievers who changed hands in advance of last July’s deadline brought back in deals. We’re talking about Joakim Soria, Jeurys Familia, Kelvin Herrera and Zach Britton. Aside from Britton, who hadn’t pitched much last year at the time of his trade because of injuries, each member of that group fared somewhat similarly to how Smith has this season.
Soria garnered two prospects, lefty Kodi Medeiros and righty Wilber Perez, when the White Sox traded him and $1MM in salary relief to the Brewers. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs didn’t sound too bullish on the White Sox’s return at the time, pointing to Medeiros’ difficulty throwing strikes and retiring righties and calling Perez “a fringe prospect.”
The Mets’ decision to send Familia (and his remaining $3MM in salary) to the A’s netted New York third baseman Will Toffey, righty Bobby Wahl and $1MM in international slot money. Keith Law of ESPN (subscription link) was among the many who panned the Mets’ half of the trade.
Herrera brought back three players – outfielder Blake Perkins, third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez, and righty Yohanse Morel – when the Royals traded him and his $4.44MM in remaining salary to the Nationals. No one from that trio rated among the Nationals’ 10 best prospects then.
Likewise, Britton pulled in three players when his deal was consummated. The Yankees acquired Britton and his $4.44MM in money from the Orioles for righties Dillon Tate and Cody Carroll and lefty Josh Rogers. Tate was one of the Yankees’ highest-rated prospects at that point (No. 6 in their system, per Baseball America), while Carroll checked in at No. 15.
For the most part, none of the above relievers brought back inspiring packages for their final few months of team control in 2018. That may not bode well for the Giants this summer, though it’s certainly worth noting Smith has been better this year than any of them were last season. And with just over $2.5MM left in salary now and $1.39MM on July 31, he’ll come at a price any team could afford. Thanks to Smith’s performance, ability to close or set up, and affordability – not to mention contenders’ annual desire to upgrade their bullpens – playoff hopefuls will be beating down the Giants’ door in hopes of landing him.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Dickerson, 29, was designated for assignment recently by the Friars. He’ll find a match with a Giants organization that has been on the hunt for interesting opportunities in the outfield all season long.
Though the Friars long tried to give Dickerson an extended look, his body didn’t hold up long enough for extended action. He turned in a solid offensive showing in his first full MLB action back in 2016, only to miss all of 2017 and 2018 owing to back issues and Tommy John surgery.
Dickerson returned this year to a tough roster situation in San Diego. The club has several younger players who deserve looks of their own at the game’s highest level.
Though Dickerson didn’t run with what limited opportunity he did have in the majors — just three singles to go with seven strikeouts in 19 MLB plate appearances this year — he has once again showed an interesting bat at Triple-A. In 113 plate appearances, Dickerson is batting .372/.469/.606 with an 18:14 K/BB ratio and five home runs.
As for Van Gurp, he’s a 2017 25th-rounder who just received a promotion to the Double-A level. The 23-year-old has battled walk issues at times but has performed well in that area this year. Through 33 2/3 innings — five at Double-A and the bulk at Class A — Van Gurp owns a 4.54 ERA with 13.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.
7:56pm: “The Yankees might not be enamored enough with Bumgarner to pay the necessary price,” MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand writes. The potential return of Severino could also impact the Yankees’ deadline plans, though as one executive points out, it wouldn’t be surprising if Severino has some rust after his long layoff, so the Yankees might not have enough time before the deadline to evaluate if they can rely on him to be the rotation help they need.
11:28am: The Yankees are known to be looking into starting pitching options, and their explorations have included two of the arms most likely to be moved before the July 31st trade deadline. According to the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff, the Yankees have been in touch with the Blue Jays about right-hander Marcus Stroman, and have also had scouts watching Madison Bumgarner’s outings for the Giants.
Virtually every aspect of the Yankees’ roster has been hit hard with injuries this season, with the rotation being no exception. Luis Severino has yet to pitch this season and won’t be back until after the All-Star break, while James Paxton, C.C. Sabathia, and (just today) Domingo German have all spent time on the injured list. Between these issues and some struggles at the back of their bullpen, Davidoff figures that the Yankees will prioritize pitching upgrades as the deadline approaches.
To this end, New York has undoubtedly done some preliminary evaluation (whether it’s scouting or direct conversations with rival front offices) about many pitchers beyond just Stroman and Bumgarner. It remains to be seen if the Yankees’ inquiries represent due diligence or a genuinely strong interest, though these two pitchers naturally stand out due to their high-profile nature, and each would come with some interesting factors to consider before any deal is completed.
Stroman has bounced back nicely this season following an injury-plagued down year in 2018, and isn’t a rental piece, as he is under team control through the 2020 season. While he’ll be in line for an arbitration raise on his $7.4MM salary for this season, Stroman will still bring a ton of value to any rotation if he keeps pitching at his current level. If Stroman did end up in the pinstripes, this extra year of control would make him a natural candidate to replace the retiring Sabathia in next season’s rotation, and thus the Yankees would have one less item to address on their offseason to-do list.
That said, Toronto will demand a big return for Stroman’s services. MLBTR’s Connor Byrne recently explored the Stroman trade market, with the Yankees cited as one of a whopping 22 teams who could be plausible fits for the right-hander — Stroman’s extra year of control makes him a target even for clubs like the White Sox, Diamondbacks, or Reds, who might not be contenders this season but are looking ahead to 2020.
Though the Blue Jays and Yankees are division rivals, the two teams combined for a high-profile pitching swap last summer when J.A. Happ was dealt to New York for Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney. Since Happ was a pending free agent at the time of that trade, and is over eight and a half years older than Stroman, the Jays figure to ask for quite a bit more from the Yankees in trade talks this summer.
Bumgarner’s situation is quite a bit different, as the former World Series MVP is a pure rental, headed to free agency after the season. Many of the same teams looking to acquire Stroman will also be in the hunt for Bumgarner (as Connor outlined in another post), though even with only two-plus months and potential postseason innings on offer, the Giants are likely to aim high in their trade demands. With so many of their other high-priced veterans struggling, battling injuries, or limited by full or partial no-trade clauses, Bumgarner represents San Francisco’s best chance of adding some solid prospects as the team looks to get younger.
Bumgarner himself has some no-trade protection, with the ability to block trades to eight teams. The Yankees are one of the teams on that list, though this doesn’t mean that the southpaw would necessarily reject a potential trade to the Bronx, but rather that Bumgarner was simply giving himself some extra leverage (perhaps in the form of a cash bonus to waive his clause) in the event that a trade offer emerged from one of those eight clubs.
The Lotte Giants of the KBO League are set to acquire infielder Jacob Wilson from the Nationals, as per a report from Naver Sports (hat tip to The Athletic’s Sung Min Kim). Wilson will take the place of infielder Carlos Asuaje, who is being released.
As per the Pacific Coast League’s official transactions page, Wilson has been placed on the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies’ temporarily inactive list, likely while the details of the move to South Korea are finalized. Wilson was originally a 10th-round pick for the Cardinals in the 2012 draft, and has compiled a .257/.336/.435 slash line and an even 100 home runs over 3029 career PA in the minors. Wilson has yet to reach the big leagues at age 28, and the move to the KBO League offers him a new opportunity (and larger salary) than he was likely to obtain continuing in the Nats’ organization.
Wilson has mostly played second and third base in his career, though he has experience all over the diamond, with multiple starts at first base, shortstop, and both corner outfield positions. He also heads to the Giants in the wake of his best-ever season at the plate, as Wilson has clearly enjoyed the thin air of the PCL to the tune of a 1.023 OPS in 230 plate appearances for Fresno.
Asuaje only just joined the KBO this past offseason, delivering a .252/.356/.368 slash over 194 PA this season. A veteran of 175 MLB games with the Padres from 2016-18, Asuaje hit .240/.312/.329 over 586 PA for San Diego, with the large majority of his production coming against right-handed pitching.
The final two top-tier free agents are finally off the board — it only took until June! — but most clubs have long since begun to reap the benefits of their offseason additions from the open market. That includes those who partook in the annual grab bag of minor league contracts.
Each year, there are dozens upon dozens of recognizable names who settle for non-guaranteed pacts — perhaps more in this past winter’s frigid free-agent climate — and while most fail to yield dividends, there’s always a handful of gems unearthed. The Rangers, Reds and Pirates did particularly well in terms of signing players on minor league contracts this offseason, but there have certainly been other deals of note. It’ll merit revisiting this bunch after the season is over to see who maintained their pace and who stepped up in the final two thirds of the 2019 campaign, but to this point in the year, here’s a look at the most productive minor league signees of the winter.
Much was made of Hunter Pence’s efforts to revamp his swing while playing winter ball in the offseason. Frankly, it’s not uncommon to hear of veteran players perhaps in the twilight of their career making alterations in an effort to stick around a bit longer. What is uncommon is for the results to be this eye-opening.
Pence hasn’t simply bounced back from a pair of awful seasons to close out his Giants tenure — he’s given the Rangers one of the best offensive performances of his 13-year Major League career. The 36-year-old has posted a resplendent .288/.341/.583 batting line with a dozen home runs, 10 doubles and a triple through 179 plate appearances. His 47.6 percent hard contact rate lands in the 91st percentile of big league hitters, per Statcast, and his average exit velocity of 92.6 mph is in the 96th percentile. Defensive metrics are down on Pence, which isn’t a huge surprise for a 36-year-old corner outfielder, but he’s hitting at a star level without benefiting from a gaudy BABIP (.299). If he can maintain this pace, he’ll have no trouble landing not just a 40-man roster spot this winter — but a solid salary to go along with it.
Pence alone would make for a terrific minor league add, but the Rangers are also getting the best form of Logan Forsythe we’ve ever seen (.299/.404/.472 through 172 PAs) and a strong showing from Danny Santana (.291/.333/.465 in 139 PAs). Those performances are a bit more dubious, as the pair improbably sports matching .388 averages on balls in play. But, Forsythe is walking at a 14 percent clip that he’s never previously approached outside of a 2017 season in Los Angeles where he logged ample time hitting eighth in front of the pitcher (with a 21 percent walk rate in such plate appearances). Santana can’t boast that same plate discipline — to the contrary, his longstanding inability to draw a walk is as pronounced as ever — but he’s making hard contact more than ever before while also stealing bases with great efficiency (7-for-8). Both Forsythe and Santana can move all over the diamond as well.
Cincinnati has gotten even more production out of its minor league deals than Texas, although the two player the Reds landed on non-guaranteed contracts both came as a surprise. Even after Dietrich was effectively non-tendered by the Marlins, he was expected to get a big league deal. Iglesias enjoyed a solid season at the plate and has long been regarded as a stellar defender at shortstop. The Tigers jumped on a one-year deal with Jordy Mercer worth $5MM in early December, seemingly believing Iglesias would command more.
That neither player found his asking price met by the time mid-February rolled around has been nothing short of a godsend for the Reds, who scooped up both on minor league pacts. Cincinnati couldn’t have known that a spring injury to Scooter Gennett would create even more at-bats for this pair early in the season, but Dietrich and Iglesias have each been sensational in capitalizing on the opportunity for unexpected levels of playing time.
Dietrich has already pounded a career-high 17 home runs despite accruing only 157 plate appearances. Detractors will point to his new hitter-friendly home park, but Dietrich has a .377 on-base percentage, .541 slugging percentage and six home runs on the road this year. Besides, it’s not as if every member of the Reds has belted 17 home runs simply by virtue of playing games at Great American Ball Park. Dietrich has a career-best 9.4 percent walk rate and career-low 20.4 percent strikeout rate as well.
Iglesias, meanwhile, has batted .294/.335/.421 with four homers and a characteristically low strikeout rate (13.5 percent) in 2019 plate appearances. He’s already tallied seven Defensive Runs Saved with a +3.3 Ultimate Zone Rating in 477 innings at shortstop, making Detroit’s decision to move on from look all the more egregious, considering they went out and signed a different veteran to man the position anyhow. He’s not running like he did in 2018, but Iglesias has been a flat-out steal.
Cabrera has been forced into minor league deals in each of the past two offseasons and will turn 35 later this summer, but the Melk Man just keeps on hitting. Injuries to Corey Dickerson, Gregory Polanco and Lonnie Chisenhall created an opening for Cabrera, and he’s responded with a .335/.376/.467 line through 179 plate appearances. It’s true that he’s benefited from a .366 average on balls in play, but Cabrera’s 11.7 percent strikeout rate is excellent and represents a continuation of the elite bat-to-ball skills he’s demonstrated throughout his career. The defense isn’t pretty — it never really has been — but Cabrera’s bat has been a huge plus for the Bucs.
The Astros tried Liriano in the bullpen down the stretch in 2017 and weren’t able to get the results they’d hoped. Liriano returned to a starting role with the Tigers in 2018 and found middling results, but he’s been reborn in the Pittsburgh bullpen in his second go-around at PNC Park. In 29 1/3 innings, Liriano has a 1.21 ERA with 32 punchouts, 12 walks and a 47.3 percent grounder rate. He won’t maintain a 96 percent strand rate or a .233 BABIP, but Liriano’s 14.7 percent swinging-strike rate is the best of his career. Even if he takes what seems like an inevitable step back, FIP pegs him at 3.08 while SIERA checks in at 3.82. While the game’s highest-paid free-agent relievers have largely flopped, Liriano looks every bit the part of a viable bullpen option.
Others of Note
There have been successful minor league signings outside of Arlington, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, of course. Eric Sogard, he of the former #FaceOfMLB and #NerdPower hashtag fame, has been a superlative pickup for the Blue Jays, hitting at a .290/.365/.481 pace with a career-high five homers in just 151 plate appearances. With several injuries and poor performances around the Toronto infield, his presence has been a boon to an otherwise disappointing lineup.
Sogard’s former teammate and fellow Oakland cult hero, Stephen Vogt, thought his career could be over at this time a year ago. Instead, he’s back in the Majors and enjoying a solid showing at the plate with the Giants. In 66 plate appearances, Vogt has hit .250/.318/.417, and Buster Posey’s recent placement on the injured list will only create more opportunity for playing time. The Giants cycled through an all-you-can-sign buffet of veteran catchers earlier this spring, and Vogt is the last man standing.
As far as other catchers go, Matt Wieters landed the role of baseball’s most seldom-used backup: the Cardinals’ second option to iron man Yadier Molina. Wieters has just 50 plate appearances on the year through June 6, but he’s going to see an uptick in playing time with Molina on the injured list for a bit. In his 50 trips to the dish, Wieters has connected with three long balls and slashed a very solid .277/.300/.511. His 15 strikeouts against just one walk could very well be a portent for struggles to come, but some more frequent playing time could also help the veteran find his rhythm.
Speaking of players who’ve succeeded in minimal playing time, right-hander Mike Morin has given the Twins 10 1/3 innings of terrific relief since having his contract selected in early May. He’s punched out seven hitters, hasn’t allowed a walk, is sitting on a career-high 56.7 percent ground-ball rate and has limited opponents to just one run (a solo home run). He’ll need to miss more bats, as he’s not going to maintain a .172 BABIP and will eventually walk a batter, but Morin’s newfound knack for keeping the ball on the ground is encouraging. (For those wondering where Ryne Harper is, he was technically signed in the 2017-18 offseason and is in his second year with the organization.)
In a similarly small sample of work — four games, 20 1/3 innings — left-hander Tommy Milone has given the Mariners some competitive starts to help out in their beleaguered rotation. Milone is sitting on a 3.10 ERA and 3.84 FIP, and while he’s never been one to miss bats in the past, he’s punched out 20 hitters against only five walks. His velocity hasn’t changed, but Milone is throwing more sliders at the expense of his four-seamer and changeup.
Over in Atlanta, the Braves have enjoyed their own bullpen find, as Josh Tomlin has pitched a team-high 32 innings of relief. Tomlin’s 3.94 ERA doesn’t exactly stand out, and fielding-independent metrics all suggest a mid-4.00s mark is more realistic, but he’s been a relief workhorse for a team whose rotation and bullpen have struggled mightily for much of the year. The 32 innings Tomlin has already soaked up have been vital for the Braves.
Elsewhere in the NL East, former Pirates and Blue Jays prospect Harold Ramirez is doing his best to continue earning playing time with the Marlins. He’s hit .329/.368/.427 through 87 plate appearances, and while that line has been buoyed by a .394 average on balls in play, Ramirez is making solid contact and isn’t striking out much. He batted .320/.365/.471 in 120 games with Toronto’s Double-A affiliate last season and .355/.408/.591 in 31 Triple-A games with the Marlins in 2019, so he’s earned a look at the game’s top level.
We’ll track the latest draft signings of note in this post …
- Giants 11th-rounder Trevor McDonald says he’s preparing to put pen to paper on a pro contract, as Patrick Clay of WLOX.com reports. Precise details aren’t known, but McDonald says he decided to forego his commitment to South Alabama after securing what he calls “a great overpay deal.” (That characterization was obviously intended to refer to his draft position, not to cast doubt upon the team’s decisionmaking.) 11th-round selections are always worthy of some added attention, as they offer the first chance for teams to take a shot at tough-sign players without worry of losing draft pool money. For players taken outside of the first ten rounds, any bonus amount over $125K counts against the pool money. Teams can utilize cost savings from earlier picks to free up some extra cash. McDonald, a Mississippi high-schooler who ranked 151st on Baseball America’s board, becomes the first early San Francisco selection to reportedly agree to terms.
- The Yankees and Giants were among the many teams that showed interest in outfielder Harold Ramirez during his brief stay on the open market last offseason, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Blue Jays outrighted Ramirez on Nov. 20, and he ended up signing a minor league deal with the Marlins exactly a week later. The 24-year-old has since given the offensively challenged Marlins some much-needed production, having slashed .346/.386/.449 (128 wRC+) in 83 plate appearances.
The Giants have placed catcher Buster Posey on their 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain (placement retroactive to June 2). To fill Posey’s roster spot, right-hander Trevor Gott has been activated from his own IL stint.
Posey hasn’t played since last Saturday, when he was forced out of the Giants’ game in the seventh inning while running out a grounder. The strain isn’t thought to be overly serious, though an IL stint was ultimately deemed necessary to give Posey full time to recover.
The longtime Giants catcher hasn’t hit much like his old self, with a modest .257/.321/.408 slash line and three home runs over 168 plate appearances. Posey underwent hip surgery last August but recovered quickly enough to make San Francisco’s Opening Day lineup, though he also missed a week in May on the seven-day concussion IL. It’s been a tough stretch overall for Posey, between these injuries and enduring what is looking like a third straight season of losing baseball in the Bay Area.
Gott was sidelined on May 25 with a forearm strain, though that worrisome diagnosis didn’t result in anything beyond a minimal stay on the injured list. The quick return allows Gott to continue what has been a very strong season, as the right-hander had a 3.00 ERA, 9.4 K/9, and 4.17 K/BB rate through 24 innings out of the Giants’ bullpen. If Gott is able to remain healthy and effective in the coming weeks, he could become a trade candidate for reliever-needy teams at the deadline.
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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