While the St. Louis Cardinals were losing three of four games to the Pittsburg Pirates on Mothers Day weekend, news hit the baseball world that Giants left-hander, Madison Bumgarner, had submitted eight teams on his no-trade list. This list, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, included the Cardinals.
With San Francisco Giants languishing in last place and looking to rebuild instead of retool, Bumgarner has not been able to work out a contract extension with the Bay City franchise. Baring an unexpected change of plans by the Giants, Bumgarner will be a free agent after the 2019 season. All this means is that the former first round pick of the Giants will likely be dealt before the July 31srt trade deadline.
The Cardinals being on the 29-year old Bumgarner’s no-trade list, doesn’t mean he is not interested in playing for the birds on the bat. It only means, Bumgarner has to approve a trade to the Cardinals or any of the other teams on his no trade list.
The No Trade list gives the 6-4, 242lb Bumgarner leverage over the Giants in trade negotiations with any of those teams. The teams on Bumgarner’s list are considered to be contenders and likely to offer more to the Giants for the servies of the four time All Star. The other teams on Bumgarner’s list are the Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Yankees, and Phillies.
What Bumgarner Brings to the Table
Madison Bumgarner has a four pitch repertoire that includes a four seam fastball, a curveball he throws at two different speeds with two different types of movement, a cutter, and a changeup. His fastball ranges from 90 to 94 mph, his cutter ranges from 86-90 mph, and his changeup sits at 82-85 mph. His curveball usually ranges from 75-78 mph, with an occasional slower curve with a more exaggerated and horizontal break in the mid to upper 60s.
The last couple of years have been tough on Bumgarner due to a pair of freak injuries. Prior to 2017, Bumgarner had started over 30 games and pitched over 200 innings for six years in a row. However, in 2017, he started only 17 games and pitched 111 innings with a 3.32 ERA. In 2018, he started 21 games and pitched 129 innings with a 3.26 ERA. Thus far, in 2019, he has started nine games, has a 2-4 record with a 4.04 ERA in just over 55 innings.
Nevertheless, Bumgarner’s 2019 SO/9(9.4) is his highest since 2016, and his BB/9(1.3) is the lowest of his career. Giants television analyst, Mike Krukow and ESPN’s Buster Olney both say Bumgarner’s fastball velocity is back in line with his career best.
Overall, Madison Bumgarner has an 11 year career ERA of 3.07, with a SO/9 of 8.8, a BB/9 of 2.1, and a HR/9 of 0.9. Bumgarner is also clutch in the postseason with a 2.11 ERA in a 102 innings pitched during 12 series. In three World Series, he has a 0.25 ERA in five games in 36 innings.
What will Bumgarner cost the Cardinals?
It’s likely going to be expensive to retain the services of Madison Bumgarner. ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian says the asking price by the Giants will be four prospects, and not low level either. This may scare off some teams but it shouldn’t the Cardinals. After all the Cardinal farm system has some depth, especially in the corner infield, outfield, and pitching.
To obtain a left handed pitcher with Bumgarner’s talent, the Cardinals could afford to shed some high end prospects. Only one, between Nolan Gorman, Elehuris Montero, and Malcom Nunez will be the heir apparent at third base. If the Cardinals extend Marcell Ozuna, what becomes of Tyler O’Neil, Lane Thomas, and Dylan Carson? Additionally, if the Cardinals acquire Bumgarner, does Austin Gomber or even Alex Reyes become expendable?
Putting together a group of top prospects won’t be difficult for the Cardinals, it’s just a matter of how bad do the Cardinals want Madison Bumgarner, and how bad do they want to win now. So back to the original question…
Should the Cardinals pursue Madison Bumgarner?
We have seen this rotation struggle so far in 2019. As I write this, Adam Wainwright was hit with five earned runs in four innings vs the Braves in Thursday’s game. Michael Wacha needed 90 pitches to get through five innings on Wednesday and even though Dakota Hudson made it through six innings on Sunday, he gave up nine hits and three earned runs.
You have to wonder about the durability of Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha to make it through an entire season. One also has to wonder if Dakota Hudson is ready to be in the rotation. The lowest ERA in the rotation belongs to Miles Mikolas st 3.83, while Flaherty(4.34), Wainwright(4.75), Wacha(4.93), and Hudson(4.61) are all well north of Mikolas.
Help appears needed, but nothing will happen now. The Cardinals will likely call up help from Memphis to see if the rotation can be stabilized before they go outside the organization. Austin Gomber, Ryan Helsley, and Daniel Ponce De Leon are options for a call up.
If these options don’t pan out and the Cardinals want to win now, then yes, the St. Louis Cardinals should pursue Madison Bumgarner. If they are to be serious contenders for Bumgarner’s services, the Cardinals should be ready to deal some high end prospects. Even if it means giving up a Gorman, an O’Neill, and a Reyes,
The San Francisco Giants will obviously try to get the best deal they can for Bumgarner. Therefore, pushing the negotiations for the services of the left hander as close to the July 31st Trade Deadline as possible, will give them the most for their return.
Who would you give up to have Madison Bumgarner in the Cardinal rotation for the stretch run? Would you be willing to deal Nolan Gorman and Tyler O’Neil? How about Alex Reyes or even Dakota Hudson? Let me know what high end prospects you would be willing to part with for Bumgarner.
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