A recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirms that the Braves are among several teams interested in Giants’ ace – Madison Bumgarner. Rosenthal also names the Astros, Twins, and Brewers as other potential suitors for the three-time World Series champion, meaning the price tag will remain high even with there being a belief around baseball that Bumgarner will never be the same pitcher he once was.
The now 29-year old lefty is on the final year of his deal and will be looking for a healthy extension this offseason. How much that contract will be worth likely depends on the impact he has on a contender once he is traded. Bumgarner is currently sporting a 4.03 ERA this season, which (if it does not improve) would mark the first time in his career he finished with an ERA over four. A lot of that has to do with the long ball. He is on pace to give up north of 30 home runs this season. His previous career-high is 26.
Bumgarner may no longer be the man that has a career playoff ERA of 2.11 or World Series ERA of 0.25, but talk of his demise is somewhat overblown. If he can cut down on the homers, this is much of the same guy who is revered as the best postseason pitcher of this generation. His fastball velocity is the highest it has been since 2015, and his strikeout percentage is the best it has been since 2016, according to FanGraphs. Bumgarner is also only walking 1.9 batters per nine innings, and by now, we should know he does his best work under pressure. A move to a team with World Series aspirations should only better his results, particularly with a stellar Braves defense behind him.
Atlanta’s rotation issues have been well-documented of late. They rank 17th in all of baseball in starting pitcher’s ERA (4.56) and are 11th in the National League. Max Fried has experienced quite a bit of regression after his spectacular start to the year. Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman are now in AAA. Dallas Keuchel has been a welcomed addition, but he will not be able to carry this group by himself. The Braves are too talented not to acquire another impact arm before the trade deadline.
Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only option. Atlanta has already expressed interest in the Mets Zach Wheeler. You can bet they will also be looking around at players like Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer (if he’s available) before July 31st.