Klub and MadBum

The title to this blog would make for a great CBS sitcom.  I could see the commercials now, an odd couple of sorts changing cities in order to change their lives…maybe for the better?  Madison Bumgarner and Corey Kluber are two potential aces that have switched teams in the offseason. The theme of the 2019 Winter meeting seems to center around pitching.  With Strasburg and Cole signing massive contracts they have overshadowed the mometus moves by both the Diamondbacks and Rangers in order to bolster their staffs. The question I have is who really made the better move??

Bumgarner helps in more ways than one.

The Diamondbacks agreed to a five-year $85 million contract over the weekend.  Bumgarner will join a rotation that features Merrill Kelly, Luke Weaver, Mike Leake, Zac Gallen, Alex Young and Robbie Ray.  With Madbum that makes for seven names for five spots. MLB trade rumors is suggesting that the pickup of Bumgarner means that Robbie Ray will be on his way out in Arizona.  If that happens, did the Diamondbacks really improve themselves? Surprisingly to most Bumgarner just turned 30 years old in August, a five year deal will not have him pitching into the twilight of his career. Bumgarner’s 3.2 WAR immediately puts him at the top of the starting pitchers for the D-Backs.  

Rotation WAR

Robbie Ray 2.0

Luke Weaver 1.8

Merrill Kelly 1.5

Zac Gallen .8

Alex Young .4

The Diamondbacks now have a proven starter at the top of their rotation. They addition of Bumgarner makes the trade market for Robbie Ray a lot better.   The impending free agent has the upside to miss bats that most contending teams are going to want to acquire. Arizona has pitching depth in the minor league system so moving Ray with the addition of Bumgarner will allow Arizona to get the depth the need at first base or the outfield.  The signing of Bumgarner has opened up the possibilities for Arizona, they improved their #1 starter and opened up the market for to continue improving their roster.  

Rangers get an Ace

The Texas Rangers have made their counter move in the stacked AL West adding former Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber for basically some guys on a spreadsheet.  This deal seemed like a recreation of the Moneyball scene where Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt just threw out a few names to pick up a reliever.  

The Cleveland Indians picked up Delino Deshields Jr. and Emmanuel Clase. Clase is the player that brings the most interest in this trade. Clase is a 21 years old and possesses potential dominant stuff including a 100 MPH cutter.  Clase projects as a future relief option for the Indians. He still has only reached the High A level but immediately jumps into the top 30 prospect list for Cleveland. 

Now let’s talk about what the Rangers got in Corey Kluber.  The Rangers had starting pitching issues all season in 2019 and they were set on reworking their rotation.  Kluber has become the marquee name along with Jordan Lyles and Kyle Gibson. Those three will join Mike Minor and Lance Lynn making a rotation that can immediately make an impact in the loaded AL West. Kluber is coming off a lost season, dealing with multiple stints on the injured list but the upside he brings is well worth what is ultimate cost was.  While the Indians found him expendable the Rangers have a chance to push themselves into the playoff hunt with a healthy new ace of the staff. We tend to forget that 2018 Kluber won 20 games and added a 5.5WAR.  

Who did better?

Arizona and Texas both have tough divisions to deal with.  The NL West is still the Dodgers and the AL West is still the Astros until further notice.  Both teams were able to add impact starters for little cost. I am going to call Diamondbacks the winner of these two trades  Bumgarner allows the flexibilty to fill in any and all needs they may have. Kluber is a huge move for the Rangers but they still have a lot of work to do to contend for even a wild card spot in the American League.  If the D-Backs decide to hold on to Ray or move Ray they should have the rotational pieces that will make them a force to contend with in the National League.

NL West Preview and Prediction

LA Dodgers

Key Additions- AJ Pollock, Russell Martin, Joe Kelly

Key Subtractions- Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Yasmani Grandal and Matt Kemp

Lineup

The Dodgers finally moved on from Yasiel Puig after a lengthy run of talking about it. His replacement former Diamondback AJ Pollock has a history of injuries but If healthy can be just as productive as the departed while not bringing the drama.  The Dodgers were also able to bring back catcher Russell Martin to replace the departed Yasmani Grandal.  The veteran Martin will help a pitching staff that will be without ace Clayton Kershaw to start the season. The flexibility for manager Dave Roberts will be a huge asset Max Muncy, Enrique Hernandez, David Freese, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger all can play multiple positions which will allow for a lot of good matchups.  The lineup will miss Grandal’s power but a healthy Corey Seager could fill in the missing power.

Rotation

No Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill means that Julio Urias will be in the rotation to start the season.  The top of the rotation will take a hit but in a whole it is still strong if Hyun-Jin Ryu stays healthy.  Walker Buehler has ascended into a premier role with the organization, he will be looked upon early to be the ace.  If his progression continues he will be the next great star in the organization.

Bullpen

The biggest addition in the bullpen was hard throwing Joe Kelly.  The worry about Kenley Jansen is understandable but he is still one of the best when healthy.  From the left side the Dodgers still have reliable Scott Alexander, but will need Tony Cingrani to return from the DL.

Colorado Rockies

Key Additions- Daniel Murphy

Key Subtractions- DJ LaMahieu

Lineup

David Dahl is finally healthy in 2019.  Put him in a lineup that features Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and Daniel Murphy. Dahl has the potential to add 30 homers to the lineup while stealing at least 15 bases.  The loss of DJ Lamahieu takes a consistent hitter out of the lineup but Garret Hampson and Ryan McMahon can easily fill in the role.  The Rockies have the most depth of any team in the division.

Rotation

Kyle Freeland and German Marquez are two guys that have not become household names but they probably should be.  Marquez brings the ability to strikeout any batter at any time.  His ability to put batters away without allowing them to put it in play is always important in Coors Field.  The bottom of the rotation consists of Tyler Anderson and Jon Gray give the Rockies a solid four man rotation.  Gray had his terrible moments in 2018 but still has the ability to be a #1.  The final spot in the rotation is owned by Chad Bettis who has looked great during the spring and should be a serviceable #5.

Bullpen

Wade Davis had a lot of saves…but he still was not good.  Scott Oberg and Sen-wan Oh stepped up last season but the Rockies made a mistake by not adding anything depth to the pen. I don’t expect Davis to have another year like 2018 but still the bullpen could be the shakiest part of this Colorado team.

San Diego Padres

Key Additions- Manny Machado, Ian Kinsler, Adam Warren, Aaron Loup

Lineup

The Padres made the move of the offseason for the NL West adding high priced free agent Manny Machado.  They now have the player to build around while their youth movement.  The announcement that super prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. has made the team means that GM AJ Preller has high hopes for this season.  With a lineup that featuring  veterans Will Myers, Eric Hosmer Ian Kinsler around Machado, the Padres lineup has a lot of promise if the youth can make the strides in the right direction. 

Rotation

The rotation will get a lift from another big time prospect Chris Paddack joins Joey Lucchesi and  Eric Lauer to build a strong young core in a rotation that still has some holes to fill.  The Padres rotation will need some work if they are looking to contend anytime soon.

Bullpen

Kirby Yates is a premier level closer that can have a huge impact finishing off games for the Padres.  If they can get lead they have the guy to close it out.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Key Additions- Adam Jones, Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Greg Holland, Wilmer Flores

Key Subtractions- Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin, Chris Owings, Dan Descalso, AJ Pollock

Lineup

The Arizona Diamondbacks are set for a full rebuild.  Moving on from Paul Goldschmidt means that they are looking for a new cornerstone for the lineup.  For now they are going to be looking for David Peralta to step up and be the middle of the order bat that can carry the team.  Re-signing versatile Eduardo Escobar allows them to move Jake Lamb over to first base.  If Lamb is able to stay healthy he can potential be a 30 homer player,  but that is a big if.  Adam Jones and Wilmer Flores are two great veteran additions that will provide stability to the lineup during the rebuild. The D-Backs are going to give Carson Kelly a chance that he never got with the Cardinals in hopes that he can live up to the long time hype.

Rotation

The rotation lost Patrick Corbin to free agency but still has the its top two starters in place with Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray.  Luke Weaver showed promise in his first season with the Cardinals but has an issue with throwing his fastball for strikes which made him a movable piece.  Weaver was still a top level prospect that is worth the look as the fourth starter. 

Bullpen

The D-Backs surprised the baseball community by naming Greg Holland their closer over the favored Archie Bradley.  Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano will give them what they need in the middle innings. 

San Francisco Giants

Key Additions- Gerardo Parra, Yan Solarte

Key Subtractions- Hunter Pence? I guess.

Lineup

I am not going to spend much time on any on this.  The Giants are going to rely on mainstays Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria. Adding veteran Gerardo Parra will provide some punch in the dugout but not much on the scoreboard.  I have always be a fan of Yan Solarte but he will not see much time unless injuries happen, still not exactly and impact bat that is needed.

Rotation

Madbum is great, Holland and Samardzija are average.  The only excitement here is the development of Derek Rodriguez.  Can he take the next step to become a true #2 starter?

Bullpen

Will Smith quietly had a very solid second half for the Giants.  Multiple reclamation projects like Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson and Tony Watson will be relied upon in a major way during the season.

My Prediction

1.Dodgers

2.Rockies

3.Padres

4.Diamondbacks

5.Giants

The Rockies have a chance to take the division in 2019, but they still have some questions in the rotation and bullpen.  The Dodgers will get back Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, but their injuries will allow Julio Urias to develop and be weapon in spot starts or potentially the bullpen.  LA still has a great offense, so many players to fill in the gaps in case of injuries.  Dodgers will win the west but the Rockies will be on their tail all season.