The Milwaukee Brewers need to upgrade their starting rotation if they want to reach the next level. Madison Bumgarner could do exactly that for one season, and it makes sense to trade for him. Here’s why…
We’ve already detailed why the Milwaukee Brewers should stay away from Madison Bumgarner, but there are two sides to every debate. Let’s take a look at the reasons why Bumgarner makes sense for the Brewers in 2019.
Banners fly forever
Before we get into the cost of the trade or the metrics, banners fly forever and prospects come and go. If the Milwaukee Brewers acquire Bumgarner, they’re the clear front runner for the NL Central and one of the top teams in the National League. Bumgarner will likely only stay for one season, but it could be a season that sees the Brewers reach the World Series for the first time since 1982.
Where does the trade package start?
The Giants are rumored to want one of Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, or Corbin Burnes plus extras. Of the trio, only Burnes should be off limits. Peralta posted a 4.40 ERA with a 4.76 BB/9 in as a starter last year. Woodruff posted a 6.32 ERA in four starts last year, and ended up back in Triple-A before returning as a reliever. While they both hinted at their potential, neither really had a breakout season. Peralta will turn 23 in June, and Woodruff will turn 26 before Opening Day. Of the two, Woodruff makes the most sense for the Milwaukee Brewers as the centerpiece of a deal.
What about other pieces?
Adding a blocked Lucas Erceg or a toolsy Tyrone Taylor, or both, could provide the Milwaukee Brewers with a top starter, and not cost prospects that the team needs to succeed. Hanging on to names like Burnes, Keston Hiura, and Corey Ray while adding a top starter would be lauded as a great move by GM David Stearns, even if it’s only for one season.
How about Bumgarner’s peripheral stats?
Bumgarner is coming off a 1.4 WAR season that saw him post a 3.26 ERA in 21 starts. He managed a 7.57 K/9 and a 2.98 BB/9 last year. Both numbers are the worst in his career in the Majors.
Bumgarner also wasn’t that bad until a lousy final month made his numbers look a lot worse. He posted a 5.28 ERA in 29 innings in the final month of the season.
He also really struggled when facing the same lineup for the third time. In fact, he posted a 5.73 ERA with a .288/.368/.500 slash line against when going through a lineup for the third time last year. It sounds like he didn’t get to build his arm strength properly, rushed back, and suffered through a rough season that he wasn’t quite ready for.
He didn’t suffer a velocity dip, and his GB:FB numbers were a perfect match for his career average. He’s not the dominant starter he was early in his career, but he could be primed for a bounce back season, especially if he has a normal Spring Training.
What about his contract?
Bumgarner will earn $12 million in the final year of his current deal. However, 2019 is also a contract year for Bumgarner. If he wants to get a big bite at the free agent apple, he needs to have a 4.0+ WAR season. Jhoulys Chacin was the Milwaukee Brewers best starter last year, and he posted a 2.6 WAR. Contract year Bumgarner has to be better that Chacin in 2018, right?
Wasn’t he hurt?
Yes. Bumgarner suffered a broken pinkie on his throwing hand that required surgery. He missed the final week of Spring Training and the first two months of the season recovering. While a broken pinkie is no laughing matter, it’s hardly a torn UCL or rotator cuff sprain. Give Bumgarner a normal start to the season with a full Spring Training program, and he should bounce back.
Between the early injury, and an indifferent Giants team, it’s really no wonder that Bumgarner struggled in 2018. He’s entering a contract year, and the Milwaukee Brewers should look to deal for a pitcher who is head and shoulders above everyone who’s returning. Peralta and Erceg isn’t an outrageous return for a player that the Brewers absolutely need to take the next step. This trade makes sense as long as the Brewers know that Bumgarner is fully healthy, and they can keep their remaining top prospects.