The 2019 Minnesota Twins are in the midst of an outstanding season that is sparking hope and life back into this fanbase. It is now well known around the team and their fans that this team will have to be adding to their rotation and/or bullpen in order to make that October push we all desire.
A name we have probably all seen being circulated around Twitter and even this website is San Francisco Giants starter Madison Bumgarner. Of course right away it sounds great because he is a big name who has pitched in October and he is probably one of the more well known guys in baseball. Well I dug a lot deeper and I have come to the conclusion that I am out on Bumgarner. It just does not make sense trading 2-3 top 20 prospects for a guy who would barely be the number three in the rotation. That may seem hard to believe so I’ll try to break it down for you.
If the playoffs start today and we have Bumgarner my rotation looks like this:
- Jake Odorizzi
- Jose Berrios
- Kyle Gibson/Madison Bumgarner (next two rows are their stats since September 2017)
- Kyle Gibson: 3.69 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 4.12 FIP, 3.77 xFIP, 8.4 K/9, .247 AVG, .309 wOBA
- Mad Bumgarner: 3.64 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 4.10 FIP, 4.21 xFIP, 7.9 K/9, .249 AVG, .309 wOBA
They are so similar it almost scares me. Adding Madison Bumgarner would be adding a left handed Kyle Gibson.
I honestly do not believe Bumgarner is a top two pitcher on this team and I might even put Kyle Gibson ahead of him but that is a whole different debate. My point here is that if the Twins are going to add a starting pitcher, it should be someone who will truly make a difference like Stephen Strasburg, Trevor Bauer, Noah Syndergaard or Zack Greinke.
To back up my argument against going all in for Mad Bum here is another comparison of him compared to the average National League starter:
- Bumgarner: 3.83 ERA, 8.69 K/9, 3.88 FIP, 1.34 HR/9, .251 AVG, 1.16 WHIP
- AVG NL SP: 4.17 ERA, 8.58 K/9, 4.23 FIP, 1.30 HR/9, .246 AVG, 1.28 WHIP
Great, he is a little bit better than the average pitcher in the National League where he gets to face the pitcher instead of the DH. If the Twins acquire him he will be pitching against the American League so I looked up how he does against those teams.
Since 2015, Madison Bumgarner has a 4.98 ERA to go along with a 1.34 WHIP and a K/9 of 8.3 in about 44 innings in American League ballparks.
Facing the pitcher is obviously a benefit for him but it is much larger for him than others. He faces the pitcher approximately 8.6% of the time and he has not allowed a hit yet this year. His slash line against the rest of the order is .276/.320/.461 (.781) compared to the NL average of .255/.328/.434 (.762). Alright those stats took me a while to find but I am doing what I must in order to diffuse your arguments.
Madison Bumgarner will likely command a large haul of prospects. I would compare a deal for him similar to the one where the Rangers sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. Looking at that trade, Bumgarner would cost something along the lines of Wander Javier, Travis Blankenhorn and Luis Rijo. That is a package I am willing to give up for the right pitcher but that would not be Bumgarner for me.
The one argument for Bumgarner that I can really get on board with is his playoff success. My argument against that would just be that he was still in his prime during his last playoff season in 2016 and he is not the same pitcher now.
Now do not take this post as me saying I do not want to add a pitcher because it costs prospects because that is incorrect. I want to add a real ace like Strasburg or even take in Trevor Bauer because of his previous connections with Derek Falvey. Bauer is probably having a worse year than Bumgarner to this point but his fit on the Twins makes much more sense. A playoff rotation of Berrios, Bauer and Odorizzi goes very far in October. I will be diving into if the Twins need a true ace some day soon.
My ideal trade deadline acquisitions include a starting pitcher who slots in first or second for the playoffs, a mid-level lefty reliever like Jake Diekman along with a lights out right handed reliever such as Ken Giles to shut down batters with Taylor Rogers. Of course this is extremely unlikely so right now I would rather take the two relief pitchers.
Again I will reiterate that I do not think Madison Bumgarner is just some scrub who would not crack the Twins rotation, I just do not want to give up top prospects for the number 3 or 4 guy in the rotation. In a recent Skor North podcast, Glen Perkins talked about how you want to get a guy who makes the whole rotation better as a whole and also helps you down the road into 2020 and beyond. He alluded to Syndergaard and DeGrom over Mad Bum because they would be on the team past this season so the price would be worth it. If Bumgarner cost two guys in the 20-30 prospect range then I would be all for it but that just is not the case. There are better options out there that I would like to pursue for the rotation.