If there was any doubt the Philadelphia Phillies are trying to win, their rumored interest in Madison Bumgarner removes it.
The National League East race looks sure to be tight between four teams, with any edge that can be gained one that could tip the scales. To that end, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network on FS1’s MLB Whiparound Thursday night, the Philadelphia Phillies (7-4) have been doing “due diligence” on Giants’ left-hander Madison Bumgarner.
After lingering in the wild card conversation and finishing 80-82 last year, the Phillies had an active offseason. Trades for shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto were notable, as were the signings of Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson.
But the headlining move was the 13-year deal they gave Bryce Harper, in a showing of the kind of “stupid money” owner John Middleton professed they would willingly spend.
The Phillies apparently monitored Bumgarner closely during spring training, and Morosi said that interest has carried into the season. After two injury-shortened seasons, albeit with fairly fluky injuries in both cases, there has been legitimate concern about the mileage on Bumgarner’s arm as he enters the final year of his contract.
Bumgarner had a good outing Opening Day against the Padres, allowing two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and one walk over seven innings.
But his last two starts haven’t been as good, with five unearned runs allowed after his own error in one start and five earned runs allowed in his most recent outing.
Over those two most recent starts, he has a 7:3 K/BB ratio over 12 innings, with the same number of swinging strikes (15) he had in his first start alone.
Since he’s in the final year of his contract, and even as an ace by reputation more than results right now, Bumgarner is an ideal trade chip for the Giants as they move toward a comprehensive rebuild.
It’s worth noting his control (1.9 BB/9) has come back, along with his fastball effectiveness to some degree, through his trio of starts in 2019.
A starting rotation with Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and Bumgarner at the top would be nice for Philadelphia, with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez to round things out and/or fill any injury voids that come.
If there are any doubts about the plan for 2019, even with Harper in place as long as he will be, trading for Bumgarner would prove the Phillies are absolutely all-in.