Ranking Madison Bumgarner's Potential Landing Spots amid Trade Rumors

Zachary D. RymerJune 24, 2022

Ranking Madison Bumgarner's Potential Landing Spots amid Trade Rumors

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    Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Trade winds are starting to swirl around Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers, including four-time All-Star and postseason legend Madison Bumgarner.

    At 32-39, the Diamondbacks are more competitive than they were during their 110-loss slog in 2021. Yet they're still an afterthought in a National League West that's being dominated by the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.

    Hence why the trade chatter is picking up as the 2022 season winds toward the Aug. 2 deadline, though Jon Morosi noted on MLB Network on Tuesday that the D-backs won't necessarily make deals meant to restock their farm system:

    Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

    Trade Deadline outlook: The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DBacks?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DBacks</a> are the team I’m following most closely right now, as <a href="https://twitter.com/RoFlo?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RoFlo</a> and I discussed on <a href="https://twitter.com/MLBNetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLBNetwork</a> earlier today. <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLB</a> <a href="https://t.co/mSnlxTZyGn">pic.twitter.com/mSnlxTZyGn</a>

    This probably means the Snakes won't trade young right-hander Zac Gallen, but it was only last Thursday that Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported that Bumgarner is one of the pitchers for whom Arizona "would entertain offers."

    Heyman also cited a general manager who cautioned that the 32-year-old lefty's salary might make him untradeable. That may be true, as he's past his prime and making $23 million this season, and he's owed another $37 million over the next two campaigns.

    And yet, Bumgarner has turned a corner in 2022 after a couple of rough seasons in 2020 and 2021. He's logged 74.1 innings and a respectable 3.75 ERA through 15 starts, notably with improved fastball velocity.

    Even if the Diamondbacks aren't willing to eat the money remaining on Bumgarner's deal to make a trade happen, it's possible they'll be able to move him anyway. Other trade scenarios include a swap of bad contracts and another team agreeing to take on all of Bumgarner's remaining money as long as the acquiring club also gets a prospect or two.

    With all this in mind, let's speculate on 10 teams that might pick up the phone and call Arizona GM Mike Hazen about Bumgarner, ranked by the likelihood of a deal.

10-6: Guardians, Atlanta, Angels, Dodgers and Cardinals

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    Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    10. Cleveland Guardians

    Record: 36-29 (T-1st in AL Central)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 0.4 (27th)

    The Guardians' starting pitching is perhaps better than WAR indicates, but Bumgarner still suits them in theory as a back-end stabilizer with playoff experience. Yet with the club's payroll all the way down at No. 28 in MLB, it's the financials that cloud this idea.


    9. Atlanta

    Record: 41-30 (2nd in NL East)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 6.5 (7th)

    Atlanta could keep rolling with what it has in its starting rotation, but Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson are both having down years, and Spencer Strider is arguably better suited to a swingman role. Yet with Atlanta's payroll higher than it has ever been by a wide margin, this is another team with likely spending constraints.


    8. Los Angeles Angels

    Record: 34-38 (3rd in AL West)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 6.0 (9th)

    The Angels just optioned no-hit kid Reid Detmers, thereby opening a slot for a back-end starter. But they should claw their way back into contention before they think about buying on the summer market. And even then, there's the question of whether they'll want to further bloat their payroll.


    7. Los Angeles Dodgers

    Record: 43-25 (1st in NL West)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 7.8 (2nd)

    Giants fans probably don't want to picture one of the franchise's icons in Dodger blue, but we swear we're not bringing up the idea for trolling purposes. Already without Walker Buehler (flexor strain), the Dodgers will have to consider all their trade options if they lose another starter to injury before the deadline.


    6. St. Louis Cardinals

    Record: 40-32 (T-1st in NL Central)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 5.2 (10th)

    The Cardinals have already used 11 different starters this season, and they're without Steven Matz (shoulder) and Jordan Hicks (forearm) because of injuries. But with Jack Flaherty having recently returned from injury and Andre Pallante stating his case for a permanent rotation job, the Cards don't have to rush into any trades.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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    AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

    Record: 40-32 (T-1st in NL Central)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 3.8 (T-17th)

    More than anything else, it was starting pitching that led the Milwaukee Brewers to 95 wins and the NL Central title in 2021. Led by Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes and fellow front-line arms Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee's starters put up a 3.13 ERA.

    Here in 2022, Burnes is doing just fine. But everyone else? Eh, not so much.

    Woodruff (Raynaud's syndrome), Peralta (lat, shoulder) and Aaron Ashby (forearm) are all on the injured list. Milwaukee's rotation is suddenly dangerously short-handed as a result, and it shows in the form of a 5.20 ERA for June.

    David Stearns, Milwaukee's president of baseball operations, recently put a positive spin on the injuries by noting that "none of them appears to be season-ending." But that shouldn't preclude him from considering Bumgarner and other reinforcements, especially given that Peralta and Ashby could pitch in relief upon their returns.

    However, whether the Brewers line up as a trading partner with Arizona for Bumgarner is debatable. Milwaukee is operating with its highest-ever payroll, so it's unlikely that it would take on all of his remaining contract. And unless you count Christian Yelich, the Brewers don't really have any bad salaries to swap with the Snakes.

4. Toronto Blue Jays

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    AP Photo/Adam Hunger

    Record: 39-30 (2nd in AL East)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 3.8 (T-17th)

    The top of the Toronto Blue Jays' starting rotation is in good hands. Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah have made 27 starts and pitched to a combined ERA of 2.59.

    Otherwise, it's not pretty.

    Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi have struggled, making 27 starts in their own right but getting lit up to the tune of a 5.04 ERA. Hyun Jin Ryu was also getting knocked around earlier in the year, and now he's out until next season after having Tommy John surgery.

    Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet the club will think "creatively" for now, but also that it could eventually "consider deadline opportunities and trade acquisitions." As his team doesn't need an ace, Bumgarner could appeal to Atkins as an innings-eater to pick up slack behind Gausman and Manoah.

    The fact that the Blue Jays are yet another team that's operating with a franchise-high payroll is a possible snag. But with the $230 million luxury-tax threshold nonetheless nowhere in sight for Toronto, perhaps it'll be willing to add to its payroll for the sake of bolstering its World Series chances.

3. Minnesota Twins

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    AP Photo/Paul Sancya

    Record: 39-32 (T-1st in AL Central)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 3.4 (20th)

    As it finished last in WAR last year, the Minnesota Twins' starting rotation has technically taken a turn for the better in 2022.

    Yet it's still largely been a struggle for Twins starters, and that's especially true now. Chris Paddack (Tommy John surgery) and Bailey Ober (groin) are out of the picture with injuries, and the club's rotation has a 5.54 ERA in June.

    More broadly, the Twins also just haven't gotten many innings out of their starting pitchers. They're only going 4.7 frames per start, which is fifth from the bottom among all major league clubs.

    Bumgarner would at least be useful in this regard, and acquiring him would also be a case of front office heads Derek Falvey and Thad Levine finishing some unfinished business. Back when Bumgarner was a free agent in 2019, the Twins were reportedly one of the "heaviest suitors" for him before he landed in the desert.

    Granted, the Twins are the latest team in this discussion whose payroll is higher than ever. But given that Miguel Sano would perhaps be superfluous even if he wasn't recovering from knee surgery, it's possible to imagine him being involved in a bad contract swap with Arizona.

2. San Francisco Giants

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    John Adams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Record: 38-31 (3rd in NL West)

    Starting Pitcher WAR: 7.3 (4th)

    Come on. You thought we would put together a list of potential landing spots for Bumgarner and not include the Giants? No way.

    Besides, they have valid excuses to pursue a reunion with the southpaw.

    They've gotten good stuff out of co-aces Logan Webb and Carlos Rodon, who've pitched to a 2.99 ERA over 28 starts. Yet the other starters the Giants have run out there have mustered only a 4.48 ERA. There's also a question of durability among that group, as Anthony DeSclafani only recently came off the IL and Jakob Junis (hamstring) just went on it.

    To be sure, the guys running the Giants aren't the same ones who drafted Bumgarner in 2007 and watched him grow into a star between 2009 and 2019. But there are still some familiar faces in the dugout from Bumgarner's days in San Francisco, including Brandons Belt and Crawford and Evan Longoria.

    Unlike the other teams at the top of this list, the Giants are actually spending well below their established peak. If they get desperate enough for some stability in the back end of their rotation, they might simply take Bumgarner and his contract off Arizona's hands.

1. New York Mets

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Record: 45-26 (1st in NL East)

    Starting Pitching WAR: 6.2 (8th)

    There was a point in the spring when the New York Mets were planning on having a rotation led by Cy Young Award winners Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, followed by Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker.

    Cut to now, and deGrom (shoulder), Scherzer (oblique) and Carrasco (back) are all injured. Ditto for young right-hander Tylor Megill, whose early-season breakout was waylaid first by biceps tendinitis and now with a shoulder strain.

    The news isn't all bad. Scherzer made his first rehab start Tuesday, and deGrom has progressed to facing live batters. The former is likely days away from returning, while the latter might be back before the All-Star break.

    But while the Mets can be patient in the meantime, they shouldn't be overly confident that their rotation will hold together for the second half. Out of that aforementioned fivesome, Walker is the only one in his 20s, and even he has a crowded injury history.

    The catch should be that the Mets already have the highest payroll in baseball, but...nah. Steve Cohen is simply too rich to pinch pennies, especially while his team is staring down a World Series run and due for a fair bit of financial relief in the offseason.


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Payroll info via Spotrac, Cot's Contracts and FanGraphs.

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