Madison Bumgarner Makes Sense For Tampa Bay Rays

In December of 2017, the Tampa Bay Rays traded franchise icon Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants. A year and a half later, these two teams could make another big trade, only this time with Giants franchise legend, Madison Bumgarner heading to Florida.

Madison Bumgarner Makes Sense For the Rays

The Giants are in a tough spot. They are old, they are expensive, and they are lacking a talented minor-league system. Also, for the third straight year, they don’t look like a contender. The Giants are in need of an infusion of young talent. Currently, their biggest trade chip is Madison Bumgarner, their long-time ace and former World Series hero.

What Bumgarner Brings

Considering that Bumgarner debuted back in 2009, he might be younger than you think. He doesn’t turn 30 until August. The four-time All Star is in the final year of a team-friendly contract that pays him $12 million this season. Any team, even the notoriously low-budget Rays, would be willing to take on what remains of that salary for Bumgarner.

Over 1,694 regular season innings, Bumgarner is 112-87 with a 3.07 ERA and 3.26 FIP. Those numbers are impressive, but where he really made a name for himself was in the postseason. He has an 8-3 postseason record with a 2.11 ERA and 3.11 FIP over 102.1 innings. He won three World Series with the Giants in 2010, 2012 and 2014, and in particular played a huge role in their most recent championship.

Bumgarner’s 2014 postseason performance was truly legendary. He logged an astonishing 52.2 innings in the playoffs alone that year as the Giants leaned on him heavily. After dominating over six starts, Bruce Bochy even brought him in from the bullpen in the seventh game of the World Series. From there, he threw five shutout innings to successfully protect a one-run lead and secure San Francisco’s third title in five years.

Of course, that was five years ago now. The Rays, and any other teams interested in him, are going to be more interested in what Bumgarner’s doing this year. Through nine starts this season, Bumgarner’s 2-4 with a 4.04 ERA over 55.2 innings, though his FIP is just 3.43. He’s striking out more than a batter per inning, with a rate of 9.38 per nine. This is an encouraging sign after his strikeout rate had dipped in each of the last two seasons. He’s also walking just 1.29 batters per nine innings.

Why the Rays Need Madison Bumgarner

The Rays entered the season with only a three-man rotation of Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow, while using openers the other two days. For the most part, the pitching has been very good. However, with only a three-man rotation, any injury is going to hurt. Unfortunately for the Rays, Glasnow, April’s AL Pitcher of the Month, left his last start with forearm tightness and has been placed on the 10-day injured list.

Forearm tightness is one of the scariest things a pitcher can hear, as it’s often a precursor to Tommy John surgery. For now, Glasnow and the Rays seem to have dodged a bullet. He’s expected to miss four to six weeks with a forearm strain.

The good news is the Rays don’t seem to think Glasnow is in need of season-ending surgery, but the bad news is they’re still going to be without him for at least a month. It’s rare to see big trades happen in May, but the Giants are reportedly ready to start selling already.

They recently asked Bumgarner to submit his eight-team no-trade list, and the Rays were not one of the teams mentioned. Bumgarner could help fill the void in the rotation left by Glasnow’s injury for now, and when Glasnow returns, the Rays would boast one of the best rotations in baseball. The Rays have a deep and excellent farm system to deal from here, and since Bumgarner’s only a rental, he shouldn’t cost them their very top prospects.

Division Outlook

The Rays have spent basically the entire season thus far sitting atop the AL East. However, the New York Yankees have managed to survive a wave of injuries and the Boston Red Sox seem to have woken up after a slow start.

Now both teams are breathing down the Rays’ necks. In addition to Glasnow’s injury, this is another reason for Tampa Bay to make this trade sooner than later. If the Giants are ready to sell, the Rays should be ready to buy.

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