Despite Jake Arrieta’s less-than-awesome, three-home run-allowed performance against the Kansas City Royals last night, the Phillies starting rotation has been one of the more consistent parts of the team of late.
Over the last 30 days, Phils starters have compiled an ERA of 3.59 that is 8th-best in MLB and 5th-best in the National League. Over the last 14 days, it’s 3.36, which is 7th-best in baseball and 4th-best in the NL. So no, it doesn’t feel like making a big change in the starting rotation is a top priority.
And yet, Vince Velasquez is a concern. There’s no way to know if Jerad Eickhoff’s hot start is for real. And if Nick Pivetta comes back at some point, what he will give the Phillies is up in the air. That’s why adding a starting pitcher, specifically a left-handed starter, would seem a likely need before the the July 31 trade deadline.
The biggest name who will likely be available is San Francisco Giants star Madison Bumgarner, who has a 3.99 ERA and a FIP of 3.50 that indicates he’s pitched a bit better than his ERA would have you believe. He’s also seen a jump in his strikeout rate from last year (19.8% to 21.5%) and a drop in his walk rate (7.8% to 3.9%), both very promising signs. His postseason experience also would make him a valued commodity by many contenders.
However, if the Phils want him, it’s not going to be easy to get him.
Madison Bumgarner’s eight-team no-trade list, per sources:#Braves#RedSox#Cubs#Astros#Brewers#Yankees#Phillies#STLCards— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 11, 2019
Bumgarner chose teams strategically; list comprised solely of contenders that might want to acquire him from #SFGiants, not teams he wants to avoid.
Before you get overly concerned, Rosenthal gives us some context.
That said, #SFGiants’ Bumgarner should be motivated to approve a trade: Any potential free agent traded in middle of season is ineligible for qualifying offer and exempt from draft-pick comp. List, however, gives him measure of control - if, say, he prefers #Braves to #Phillies.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 11, 2019
Further explanation on Bumgarner: Players include contenders on their no-trade list to gain leverage if a trade agreement is reached, NOT because they have no interest in winning.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 11, 2019
More context on Bumgarner: His contract allows him to reject trades to eight teams. The eight I reported are the ones he can block. He can still approve trades to those teams, but generally players want some form of compensation to waive their no-trade protection.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 11, 2019
So, what kind of compensation would Bumgarner want? A contract extension? If so, for how long and how much? He’s been around forever but it’s important to note the lanky lefty is still just 29 years old, and he’s seen an uptick in his velocity and swinging strike rate this season. He’s averaging 91.4 mph on his fastball, up from 90.9 mph last season, and his 11.5% swinging strike percentage is far better than last year’s 9.2%.
Obviously there still a long way to go in the season, but if those peripherals stay consistent, guaranteeing a couple of years may not be the worst idea in the world.
Regardless, as Rosenthal noted, just because the Phillies are on Bumgarner’s no-trade list doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to play in Philadelphia. The Giants are going nowhere fast and Bumgarner certainly would be happy to play for a contender. Right now, the Phils are certainly that. However, it might cost the Phillies more in terms of money and commitment (not to mention the prospect cost associated with a deal like this) in order to land the former World Series MVP.