Could Madison Bumgarner be on the move?
A guy who’s as identifiable in the Bay Area as a trolley shouldn’t be moved. Simply put, trading Mad Bum seems Mad Dumb.
But that’s the challenge for new Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi — how do you move a San Francisco legend? There’s no denying that when Bumgarner is on, he’s on, and he’s one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball.
While all 29 other teams would love to have Bumgarner snarling and snot-rocketing every fifth day, here are five that make the most sense.
While the Brewers’ rotation performed above expectations — especially deep into the postseason — there’s no denying that Milwaukee could use a horse’s ace at the top.
Jimmy Nelson missed the 2018 season, recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered at the tail end of the 2017 season. Jhoulys Chacín carried the load for the Crew for most of 2018, but it’s difficult to see him replicating that success in 2019. Even if he does, that shouldn’t deter the team from wanting Bumgarner.
The Brewers’ farm system isn’t as loaded as it once was, ranking in the bottom third of most farm rankings since promoting some players and trading others, but Milwaukee could still have the trade capital to get it done.
While the Brewers and SN Co-Manager of the Year Craig Counsell are ahead of the curve when it comes to bullpen usage — something that was exceedingly evident in the playoffs — the team needs to keep its ‘pen fresh for another potential October run.
Until the last two injury-shortened seasons, Bumgarner had six consecutive seasons with 200-plus innings pitched. In 2018, 16 of Bumgarner’s 21 starts were six innings or more. That’s the length the Brewers could use, and given that Bumgarner’s recent injuries have been of the freak variety — a dirt bike incident in 2017 and a fractured hand in 2018 after being struck by a line drive — his left arm isn’t a concern.
The Phillies are attached to every free-agent and trade target on the market this offseason, including stadium vendors and janitors, so there’s no surprise that Bumgarner was on their Christmas list.
Bumgarner would fit seamlessly into the Phillies’ rotation, an excellent 1A to No. 1 Aaron Nola and a Jake Arrieta, who showed signs of decline amid an overall good 2018. Not to mention, Bumgarner would slot in as the sole lefty in the rotation.
There’s something about Bumgarner that would make him fit very, very well in a Phillies uniform. Maybe it’s the snarl, or the attitude, or the beard. Who knows? But if the Phillies are serious about making a jump and challenging for a National League pennant, they’re going to need to shore up the rotation.
From the Bay Area to Madison Avenue?
The Yankees need help at the top of their rotation even after their big-time trade for James Paxton. To go toe-to-toe with the Houstons and Bostons of the world — the past two World Series winners, one a division rival — you need a really good rotation, and the Yankees have been searching for a really good rotation for a long time.
You have to go to 2013 to find a Yankees starter who eclipsed the 200-inning mark, though some have come close. In fact, the Yankees have perpetually searched for another impact lefty in the rotation to pair with CC Sabathia since the days of Andy Pettitte. Jordan Montgomery was a surprise for the team in 2017 but is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t be back until the middle of 2019.
If the Yankees want to get creative, they can avoid spending money on Patrick Corbin, acquire Bumgarner in exchange for prospects, and reallocate that money for a potential Bumgarner contract extension. That’d be the best option for the Bombers.
Imagine a world where the defending World Series champions roll out Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner and David Price at the top of their rotation.
The Red Sox shouldn’t rest on their laurels, considering the Yankees are still a very real threat in the AL East. One can also assume that the Rays will take a step up as well, especially given their surprising, pesky second half.
While a move for Bumgarner would make the Red Sox rotation lefty-dominant — Sale and Price would be the main cohorts, with Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz as two more left-handed options — those top three guys can get anybody out, and between two Cy Young winners and a perennial Cy Young candidate in Bumgarner, that would be a devastatingly good one-through-three.
While the Red Sox’s farm system is barren at the moment — third baseman Michael Chavis is the sole representative on MLB Pipeline’s list of the top 100 prospects — that has never stopped team president Dave Dombrowski before. If a starter the caliber of Bumgarner is on the trade market, expect him to at least make the call.
The Padres aren’t ready to compete just yet, but rumors have had them attached to top-end starters for a year or so, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard among them .
Would the Giants send him to a division rival? Well, if they could dip into the Padres’ farm system deeper than a Chicago pie, potentially. The Giants’ rebuild is going to take a little bit of time, and they likely wouldn’t feel “threatened” by the return of Bumgarner, especially given his impending free agency after the 2019 season.
But the Padres haven’t been averse to spending big bucks in years past — see Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers — and getting an opportunity to bring in Bumgarner and maybe extend him as a rock of the rotation for the next few years makes a lot of sense.