There’s no question 2019 is looking like the season in which Madison Bumgarner will be traded from San Francisco. Looking at San Francisco’s prospect pipeline, it is in clear need of an overhaul, and there’s no question the Giants should get a nice return for Bumgarner’s services. I want to start off by saying that Bumgarner is due to become a free agent after this season. I bring this up because it is important to note that teams could be reluctant to sell the farm for a rental. Yes, we’ve seen teams do just that if it means reaching the World Series, but with Bumgarner not wanting to leave San Francisco, and listing his eight-team no-trade list (I’ll go more in depth later), it will be interesting to see how a potential deal comes to fruition. This week, I want to focus on potential trade partners, for Bumgarner’s services, in “That’s Amore!” The Madison Bumgarner Sweepstakes Begin.
What can be said about Madison Bumgarner? When I think of Bumgarner, I think work-horse, big lefty, and once perennial Cy Young contender. However, off-the-field injuries have made Bumgarner look mortal more than ever before. From 2011-2016, Bumgarner averaged 30+ starts, 214 strikeouts, a 3.00 ERA, and 1.07 WHIP. Since 2016, these numbers have greatly decreased as he’s averaged 19 starts, 105 strikeouts, a 3.29 ERA, and 1.16 WHIP. Still, his ERA and WHIP are nothing short of being solid. Again, he was forced to miss the beginning of the 2017 season with a rib injury and Grade 2 AC Joint sprain due to a dirk bike accident and his 2018 season was delayed after a fractured left hand suffered during Spring Training.
On Saturday, reports came out that Bumgarner gave the Giants organization eight-team no-trade list. This list included: Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and St. Louis Cardinals. When you read these names, you immediately think, “Well, that’s odd. All of these teams are competing for not only their divisions, but for a deep run in the playoffs.” If we look deeper, we can see this is a way of Bumgarner gaining leverage of the situation. It’s clear he doesn’t want to leave San Francisco, and the team will have to work hard to get a deal done, and does not have the free power to move Bumgarner without his agent’s, and his say. Below, are a list of potential trade partners. I’ve broken down by what could be dealt, how the rotation would look with Bumgarner, and the likelihood a deal gets done.
Not only is this a phenomenal fit, but this is a landing spot that would suit Bumgarner well. The Braves are coming off a 90-win season, and currently sit tied with the New York Mets 3.5 games behind the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. There’s no questioning the Braves offense, and their plethora of young talent leading the way. One thing that sets the Braves apart from the other teams on this list is their minor league system that is full of young, talented players. From a pitching standpoint, they have Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, Touki Toussaint, and Bryse Wilson in their minor league affiliations. Add in Luiz Gohara, Kolby Allard, Joey Wentz, and Kyle Muller and it’s easy to see why they have some of the best pitching prospects of all 30 teams.
Barring an injury, the Braves offense is well put together, and along with bullpen help, which most teams will be looking to add at the deadline, a starting pitcher like Bumgarner would give this staff a well-decorated run. With the track record Bumgarner owns, he would give them the veteran leadership not only this pitching staff needs, but the entire clubhouse as well. If this organization is serious about making a deep run, Bumgarner is a no-brainer.
Likelihood: 70% (Their minor league organization offers many desired arms, as well as position players, to help San Francisco)
New York Yankees
Currently rehabbing a knee injury, James Paxton features towards the top of the Yankees starting rotation. After an off-season deal for the big lefty, the Yankees have high hopes with Paxton. Bombarded by a plethora of injuries to start the season, the Yankees have battled through adversity and still find themselves atop the AL East Standings. At full health, there’s no questioning what this offense can be. A lot like Atlanta, the Yankees possess trade pieces, and while they have prospects available, they also possess Clint Frazier and Jonathan Loaisiga who are already in the Majors. With Aaron Hicks set to come off the IL on Monday, who remains to be seen which player will be sent down. Again, once the team is at full strength, could Frazier and Loaisiga be pieces dangled for Bumgarner’s services? Adding Bumgarner would not only bolster their rotation, but it gives them more than capable starters to battle through the American League East, but also in the playoffs when they would play the likes of the Houston Astros. With Luis Severino’s current injury a mystery, and no timetable for a return in sight, it’s on the Yankees to add the best starting pitcher available. Out of many of the teams on this list, I feel the Yankees could have one of their better shots at retaining Bumgarner after 2019.
Likelihood: 80% (Brian Cashman has completely rebuilt their minor league system, and Major League roster, and is ready to win now)
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals were not going to struggle for long. 2015 was the last time the Cardinals won the National League Central, and fourth in the division, 3.5 games out of first. After finishing 2018 third, in the NL Central, they team traded for Paul Goldschmidt to give them one of the best hitters in the game. The Cardinals are one of the few teams without a left-handed starting pitcher in their rotation, and adding Bumgarner would take their rotation to another level. Bumgarner would immediately become the ace of this staff, and would boost the organization similar to the way the trade for Paul Goldschmidt did. With Carlos Martinez still rehabbing from shoulder weakness, there is a glaring need in the Cardinals starting rotation. Even when Martinez comes back, it’s up in the air if he will immediately rejoin the starting rotation, or monitor his work load while pitching him out of the bullpen. While St. Louis’ minor league system doesn’t contain the quality of the Yankees’ or Braves’, they could put together a package that includes a handful of pieces. With the NL Central already including the Brewers and Cubs, a much-needed starter of Bumgarner’s caliber would have a huge impact on the Cardinals.
Would the Cubs like to add Bumgarner? Of course. However, the Cubs have a glaring need in their bullpen. Come trade deadline, the Cubs will be looking to add relievers, unless a serious injury should occur. It remains to be seen if Brandon Morrow will ever pitch again, and Tyler Chatwood has found himself in the bullpen after tumultuous 2018 season starting for the Cubs. Yu Darvish has shown signs of bouncing back after a lost 2018 season, but walks, and issues repeating his delivery, have persisted. After once possessing one of the best minor league systems in Major League Baseball, the Cubs sold of numerous parts acquiring Aroldis Chapman for their 2016 World Series Championship run, and acquiring Jose Quintana with his control-friendly contract. I would be shocked more if the Cubs landed Bumgarner than any other team on this list.
The Brewers are different than the other clubs on this list. They lack a true ace on their starting staff, and they are able to get by with a strong bullpen featuring one of the best, and electrifying, relievers in Josh Hader. There’s no question what this offense is capable of, featuring 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich. I truly believe this team desperately needs a top-end starter should they go deep into the playoffs. Their minor league system possesses enough to land a deal, but they would have to put together one enticing offer to ward off the other clubs looking to land Madison Bumgarner. 2018 saw the Brewers get a good taste of the playoffs, and should they want more, and a chance to get to the World Series, they absolutely need to get a true ace, and Bumgarner would be that ace.
Likelihood: 65% (Do they have enough to put a package together that would better those of other teams?)
Astros landed Justin Verlander for their 2017 World Series Championship push, and possess desirable pieces in their minor league system. The following season, they acquired Gerrit Cole to help give them a solid one-two punch. With prized pitching prospect Forrest Whitley still developing in the minors, and Collin McHugh having spent time in the rotation, the Astros could go out and land Bumgarner making them the favorites to win the World Series. While Whitley seems untouchable, they do possess Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez, who could entice San Francisco enough to pull the trigger. As I mentioned earlier, any trade will need the blessing from Bumgarner and his agent, but how would he feel entering free agency with a fourth World Series under his belt? While their offense gives their starters room for error, adding Bumgarner would put this organization onto an entire different level.
This team has been rebuilt, and the additions of Bryce Harper, and J.T. Realmuto, expedited the win-now notion. The Phillies rebuild opened up the books as well as helped add talent to their minor league system. Their starting rotation has pitched admirably into the early part of the 2019 season, but the addition of Madison Bumgarner would only help position the Phillies in the National League East. Prospect Cole Irvin is set to take the place of the injured Vince Velasquez, and while reports suggest Velasquez won’t miss much time, adding Bumgarner would only help solidify the Phillies rotation. They have the minor league system to put together a solid package, and I’d say it’s enough to equal, or better, any other offer from the other teams on this list.
Boston Red Sox
A lot like the Yankees, Astros, and Cubs, Bumgarner would only help elevate the Red Sox starting rotation. David Price is currently dealing with elbow tendonitis, and while Nathan Eovaldi recovers from surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow. While their rotation, a lot like Chicago, features a handful of lefties, Bumgarner would give the Red Sox another solid option in their rotation. With Bumgarner’s track record, accompanied by Chris Sale and David Price, this would only add to a team that is starting to heat up. The American League East is a competitive division, and adding another veteran, such as Bumgarner, would make back-to-back World Series Championships even more attainable. One question I have is whether or not they possess the minor league talent to put together a package to rival another team’s offer.
The Twins are a dark horse candidate of mine. The Indians window for a deep run is almost shut, and I can’t see the White Sox looking for a rental should they be positioned for the playoffs. The White Sox are in the midst of a rebuild, and there’s no way they move any of their minor league talent, for something that seems like a pipe dream. The Minnesota Twins have not only been one of the early stories of the 2019 season, but they own one of the best records in baseball. They’ve played solid baseball, and they’ve had solid performances out of their starting rotation. Again, it’s a long shot, but if they feel confident that Bumgarner could be the difference in reach the World Series, their front office would have to have serious talks in moving minor league to acquire Bumgarner. Who knows, may San Francisco could find a potential offer the best of the group.
Note: You might ask why the Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t featured in this article? There is zero chance San Francisco ships Bumgarner to their division rival.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday May 9th, 2019 from 7:30-9pm EST for episode #158 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Cole and Kyle will discuss the latest happenings in the world of MLB and fantasy. They will take a look back on the previous few days and a preview of the coming weekend. Including spot starts, bullpens, offense, and minor league players.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 12th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #159 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer, editor, league owner, and frequent guest on majorleaguefantasysports.com shows.