Tim Benz: What Pirates could offer to get Madison Bumgarner
Picture it. Madison Bumgarner pitching at PNC Park in October again.
I mean, for the hometown team this time.
You might remember him from the wild-card game five years ago as a member of the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Right. That guy.
Well, the 2014 World Series MVP is on an expiring contract. And the Giants are in last place of the National League West, 17½ games out of first place.
So Bumgarner’s name has come up in trade talks.
Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com prospects expert, was on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday. He entertained the thought of who the Pirates might be able to offer as a palatable return to San Francisco to entice the Giants to give them the four-time All-Star.
MLB Prospects expert @JonathanMayo makes a compelling case for hypothetical Pirates trade: Will Craig and Travis Swaggerty for Madison Bumgarner.
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) July 10, 2019
Will Craig was the Pirates’ first-round pick in 2016. The first baseman is ranked 12th among Pirates prospects by MLB.com. Travis Swaggerty was the first-round pick in 2018. The outfielder is rated third.
Mayo also said he would consider Craig plus infielder Kevin Kramer or pitcher Luis Escobar for a trade. But not shortstop Cole Tucker.
Frankly, I’m less in love with Tucker than most. I’d prefer to hold onto Swaggerty more so than Tucker. But if the Pirates are still within 21⁄2 games of first place at the trade deadline — as they are now — I’d make that deal.
Unless Bumgarner falls off a cliff between now and then.
So far, 2019 hasn’t been great to Bumgarner. He’s 5-7 with a 4.03 ERA. He has allowed 17 home runs. Only nine National League pitchers have allowed more, including Pirates right-hander Chris Archer, who is tied for the league lead with 20.
But Bumgarner has made 19 starts, second most in the NL. His 1112⁄3 innings pitched are seventh in the league. His 1.20 WHIP is 15th. And his 115 strikeouts are tied for 11th.
So if nothing else, he can still get guys out on his own, and he eats innings. With the Pirates’ up-and-down bullpen already taxed, that could come in handy in the second half of the season.
The Pirates are likely burned after giving up two first-round picks (and Tyler Glasnow) in the Archer trade last year. That would make four first-rounders in two years for two pitchers, neither of whom may still be around to open spring training in 2020.
That doesn’t sound like a Neal Huntington business plan to me.
But, again, think of it. If the Pirates somehow stay within shouting distance of the playoffs, who would you rather have on the mound every fifth day as autumn comes around?
Jordan Lyles? Steven Brault? Or Madison Bumgarner?
Yeah. Me, too.