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.

Three Potential Targets for MadBum

Madison Bumgarner looks to be on the move during the upcoming trade deadline. The Giants lefty has craft fully dictate who he will go to. This trend can and should be motivation for other prominent stars moving forward. Rather than exercising a full NTC and perhaps limiting the length and value of their current contract, they should strategically pick some teams likely to be in contention for years to come in hopes of controlling their own narrative when the time comes.  If Bumgarner doesn’t decide to wave the no-trade clause there are still some teams that could be a good fit for him and the Giants.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays continue to baffle the baseball world.  They shouldn’t be that good with a payroll that Bryce Harper could cover with the first three years of his current contract.  Still the Rays find ways to make it work.  Great scouting, smart signings along with management team that seems to understand the puzzle of an MLB roster to perfection won 97 games during the 2018 season. The Rays still hold a top-rated farm system, ranking #2 behind only the San Diego Padres (more from them later). The Rays would be an ideal partner for the Giants as they have a core of intriguing position players to go along with a batch of young arms that are expendable.

Players like 1st baseman Nate Lowe, SS Lucius Fox could be a building blocks for a potential package while throwing in a pitcher like Matthew Liberatore.  Fox and Libertore rank in the top 55 in all of baseball and top ten in the Rays system.  A potential throw in like the once highly touted RHP Jose De Leon could very easily make close the deal.

Tampa Bay has the flexibility to move a few prospects to add to an already stellar rotation.  With the uncertainty of the return of Tyler Glasnow, Bumgarner could step right into a role alongside 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell giving the Rays a top of the rotation that would be tough to match in the playoffs.

Minnesota Twins

Minnesota was able to fill in a gap that held them back in 2018: Power.  Additions like Nelson Cruz and Johnathon Schoop along with growth from Jorge Polanco have made the Twins a a potent lineup one through nine. 

While the offense has flourished the starting pitching, staff has gotten contributions from unexpected sources.  Most notably veteran Martin Perez has reinvented himself with the addition of a cutter.  Perez has given up just four runs over his last four starts averaging 6 2/3 innings per start.  Even with Perez, the Twins still have some questions in the depth of their rotation.  Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda have all been serviceable but there is still something missing at the top of the rotation.

The Twins have solidified themselves early in the first half as contenders for the AL Central crown.  Adding a veteran champion like Madison Bumgarner can fill in the gap after all- star Jose Berrios.  Minnesota also has the depth in the farm system to make this deal happen.  The Twins currently rank as the 8th best farm system in baseball according to baseball MLB Pipeline.

San Diego Padres

This is a but farfetched as I don’t see the Giant moving Bumgarner within the division but if they would the Padres would be an ideal target for them.  San Diego has the farm system to make this deal as well as the location and money to sign Bumgarner long term.  Signing Manny Machado allows the flexibility with prospects Luis Arias and Xavier Edwards.  Two potential pieces that have become expendable for the organization. The Padres also have. Large number of young arms that have been on the way for a long time that could be moved for a potential ace to work with the young pitchers that have continued to develop like Joey Lucchessi and of course the talented Chris Paddack.