Finding a Match for Madison Bumgarner: Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, and New York Mets

The Brewers have expressed plenty of interest in the Giants’ ex-Ace and once-dependable starting pitcher: 29-year-old Madison Bumgarner. He has regressed significantly over the last three years, two of which have been plagued by injuries. In 2017, Bumgarner missed nearly three months of the season due to an injury that occurred when he was riding a dirt bike. This past season, Bumgarner missed all of April and May with a fractured left hand (off of a line drive that struck him during a preseason game against the Royals). Presumably, his recent drop in performance can be attributed to a combination of the aforementioned fluke injuries and age decline (which has subsequently led to decreased FB velocity and potency). The stat-line (all metrics according to Fangraphs) below provides evidence for Mad Bum’s recent reduction in effectiveness…

IP

2015: 218.1

2016: 226.2

2017: 111.0

2018: 129.2

K/9, FB Vel, and FB SwStr%

2015: 9.65; 92.8; 10%

2016: 9.97; 91.5; 9.7%

2017: 8.19; 91.0; 6.5%

2018: 7.57; 90.9; 4.7%

BB/9

2015: 1.61

2016: 2.14

2017: 1.62

2018: 2.98

ERA

2015: 2.93

2016: 2.74

2017: 3.32

2018: 3.26

xFIP

2015: 3.02

2016: 3.54

2017: 4.07

2018: 4.32

WAR

2015: 5.2

2016: 4.9

2017: 1.7

2018: 1.4

Despite the fact that Bumgarner’s value is deteriorating, there is lots of room for growth if Bumgarner virtually ditches his fastball…

Cutter SwStr%: 2015 – 14.8%; 2016 – 11.5%; 2017 – 11.3%; 2018 – 11.8%

vs

Fastball SwStr%: 2015 – 10%; 2016 – 9.7%; 2017 – 6.5%; 4.7%

and

Cutter AVG: 2015 – .230; 2016 – .224; 2017 – .224; 2018 – .214

vs

Fastball AVG: 2015 – .242; 2016 – .236; 2017 – .256; 2018 – .299

and

Cutter HRs and pitches: 2015 – 4 (1040 pitches); 2016 – 8 (1185 pitches); 2017 – 3 (594 pitches); 2018 – 5 (719 pitches)

vs

Fastball HRs and pitches: 2015 – 11 (1630 pitches); 2016 – 18 (1709 pitches); 2017 – 10 (712 pitches); 2018 – 8 (703 pitches)

In 2018, Mad Bum threw his cutter 35% of the time and his fastball 34.2% (basically the same frequency). If he had implemented the following pitch mix (using more CBs and cutters in lieu of his FB), he would have indisputably pitched more effectively…

Cutter: 50% (2018 – 11.8 SwStr%)

Curveball: 37.2% (2018 – 11.7 SwStr%)

Changeup: 8.6% (2018 – 8.9 SwStr%)

Fastball: 4.2% (2018 – 4.7 SwStr%)

We can now estimate what his overall SwStr%, HRs against, and AVG against would have looked like last year with this seemingly improvised pitch repertoire. For the purpose of this investigation, let’s assume the 2018 SwStr%, HRs against, and AVG against for a particular pitch remain constant regardless of the change in its usage).

2018 Overall SwStr% – 9.2%

vs

Overall SwStr% with improved pitch mix: [2018 total pitches – 2045; 50% cutters – 1022 pitches; 37.2% curveballs – 761 pitches; 8.6% changeups – 176 pitches; 4.2% fastballs – 86 pitches]; [(cutter 11.8 SwStr% * 0.5) + curveball 11.7 SwStr% * 0.372) + (changeup 8.6 SwStr% * 0.089) + (fastball 4.7 SwStr% * 0.047)] = 5.9 + 4.4 + 4.3524 + 0.7654 + 0.2209 = 15.6 SwStr%

That SwStr% is 6.4% higher than his 2018 mark and would have put Bumgarner in a tie for the 2nd highest overall SwStr% (Corbin: 15.6 SwStr% and Scherzer: 16.2%).

and

2018 HRs against: 14 HRs

  • # of HRs conceded / 100 cutters: 0.69541 (5 HRs off cutter in 2018 / 719 cutters thrown)
  • # of HRs conceded / 100 fastballs: 1.13798 (8 HRs off fastball in 2018 / 703 fastballs thrown)
  • # of HRs conceded / 100 curveballs thrown: 0.21978 (1 HR off curveball in 2018 / 455 curveballs thrown)
  • # of HRs conceded / 100 curveballs thrown: 0 (0 HRs off changeup in 2018 / 157 changeups thrown)

vs

HRs against with improved pitch mix: (0.69541% * 1022 cutters) + (0.21978% * 761 curveballs) + (0% * 176 changeups) + (1.13798% * 86 fastballs) = 7.11070902 + 1.6725258 + 0 + 0.9786628 = 10 HRs

and

2018 AVG against: .235

  • AVG against cutter: .214
  • AVG against fastball: .299
  • AVG against curveball: .187
  • AVG against changeup: .303

vs

AVG against with improved pitch mix: (.214 * 50% cutter usage) + (.299 * 4.2% fastball usage) + (.187 * 37.2% curveball usage) + (.303 * 8.6% changeup usage) = .107 + .012558 + .069564 + .026058 = .215 AVG against

In summary, if Mad Bum had utilized the improved pitch mix, he would have likely…

  • Gotten more strikeouts
  • Given up fewer HRs
  • Given up fewer hits

The Brewers and Giants have had substantive communication about a Bumgarner trade this winter, sources say, and the Brewers are continuing their internal deliberations about how much they’re willing to give up in order to acquire the three-time World Series hero.


A trade of Bumgarner represents the best opportunity for San Francisco to obtain high-end young players as the franchise begins what it hopes will be a rapid rebuild under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.

MLB.com’s Jon Morosi

We will integrate Fangraphs’ new Update to Prospect Valuation system in order to most precisely formulate realistic compensation that the Brewers could conceivably part with (for Madison Bumgarner).

results are presented in present-day WAR and translated to a rough dollar figure based on $9 million as the cost of a win on the free-agent market. Keep in mind that the dollar figure isn’t a direct value, but rather equivalent value of a prospect relative to the free-agent market. Part of the reason prospects have such tremendous value is due to the suppressed salaries permitted by the CBA until a player has reached six years of service time. By translating the WAR figure into a monetary value, we can compare the value of prospects with the values of major-league players and their contracts. These values likely roughly approximate what an individual player might get as a signing bonus if he were declared a free agent and teams could only provide a signing bonus instead of a long-term contract.

Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards

In other words, Fangraphs assigned a monetary value for all minor league prospects (based on how former prospects belonging to that tier / rank performed during the first 9 seasons of their baseball career [“including the season in which a prospect was ranked”]). These values are comparable to current major leaguers (calculated through incorporating WAR [$9 million / 1 WAR] and the cost of the player’s contract).

The calculations for Madison Bumgarner’s surplus monetary value can be seen below…

(2.1 WAR projection [per Steamer] for 2019 * $9 million / 1 WAR) – $12 million (salary for 2019) = $18.9 million – $12 million = $6.9 million in surplus value

The chances of the Giants netting a top 100 prospect for Mad Bum are improbable, especially when you consider that Anthony Banda, who is ranked 131st on Fangraphs’ top 131 list, is worth $9 million in monetary value. The Giants would likely have to take back some salary on Bumgarner’s contract. The majority of the prospects that are excluded from Fangraphs’ top 131 list (which can be viewed at the bottom of their Update to Prospect Valuation article) are likely on the table, with the lone exceptions being position player (hitters) prospects who are graded 45+ FV (on the 20-80 scouting scale); they have a monetary value of $8 million.

A young [Brewers’] starting pitcher — Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff or Freddy Peralta — would need to be part of offer for deal to occur.

Jon Morosi on the return the Giants are seeking from the Brewers

The first two RHPs on the aforementioned list — Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff — are presumably off the table; Burnes is listed as a 55 FV (monetary values in that tier ranged from $39-45 million) and Woodruff is listed as a 50 FV (monetary values in that tier ranged from $9-31 million). The latter pitcher — Freddy Peralta — is likely the best fit; he is listed as a 45+ FV ($6 million).

Freddy Peralta

Freddy Peralta had a 3.10 ERA, 2.48 FIP, and 3.60 xFIP in 61 IP at AAA. He struck out a whopping 12.84 batters / 9 IP and surrendered a mere (1) HR. His biggest drawback is his control. In AAA, Peralta had a walk rate of 4.13 batters / 9 IP. With that being said, the Brewers rewarded Peralta for his strong overall performance with a call-up to the major leagues. He made them look like geniuses after making his first MLB start in which he was near perfect, striking out a bakers dozen (13).

He went on to appear in 15 additional games. His final MLB stat-line read…

  • IP: 78.1
  • ERA: 4.25
  • K/9: 11.03
  • BB/9: 4.60
  • WAR: 1.2

Aside from the alarmingly high walk rate, those are very solid numbers for a rookie SP. Freddy Peralta generated many whiffs on all 3 of his pitches…

  • Fastball: 11% SwStr
  • Curveball: 10% SwStr
  • Changeup: 12.8% SwStr

He relied most heavily on his FA (fourseam FB), which he used 77.6% of the time and CU (19.5%). Peralta flashed some upside with his changeup but only threw it 2.8% of the time. At this point, we can not conclude whether or not his CH is actually an effective pitch because he used it so rarely. Fangraphs’ graded the FV of his CH as a 45 (slightly below avg.); nonetheless, Peralta has shown that he has the capabilities to succeed at the major league level; though he might be better suited as a RP (he uses virtually two pitches), where his lackluster command and control could play up.

In addition to Freddy Peralta, the Giants could ask for $0.9 million or a 40 FV pitching prospect ($1 million). Here is a long list of the Brewers’ 40 FV pitching prospects (per Fangraphs)…

  • LHP Aaron Ashby
  • RHP Braden Webb
  • RHP Trey Supak
  • RHP Marcos Diplan
  • RHP Bobby Wahl
  • RHP Adam Hill
  • LHP Clayton Andrews
  • RHP Lun Zhao
  • RHP Adrian Houser

Of the players on the list above, I would personally be most interested in Trey Supak. He had a 1.76 ERA in 51 IP at A+ and a 2.91 ERA in 86.2 IP at AA. His walk rate was a tad below 3 BB / 9 IP, and he struck out around 8 batters / 9 IP. He had 1.18 WHIP at AA, which is pretty good. Supak’s upside is that of a #4 SP.

The proposal we have come up with reads as follows…

The San Francisco Giants trade LHP Madison Bumgarner to the Milwaukee Brewers for RHP Freddy Peralta and RHP Trey Supak

A couple of other teams are likely to be interested in Mad Bum as well: the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.

New York Yankees

The Giants are bound to be interested in RHP Jonathan Loaisiga ($6 million). On the surface, his 5+ ERA in around 25 IP gives a bad impression; however, it is important to note that Loaisiga’s FIP and xFIP were 3.53 and 2.95, respectively. He also struck out over 12 batters per 9 innings and generated GBs at an above average clip (49.2%). Loaisiga’s minor league numbers in 2018 were spectacular (though they did drop off some after a promotion to AA)…

A+

  • IP: 20
  • K/9: 11.7
  • BB/9: 0.45
  • HR/9: 0
  • GB%: 52%
  • ERA: 1.35

AA

  • IP: 34.1
  • K/9: 10.49
  • BB/9: 1.57
  • HR/9: 1.57
  • GB%: 38.7%
  • ERA: 3.93

Loaisiga’s upside is that of a #3 starter, but it appears to me that he may be better utilized as a multi-inning reliever. His ERA as a SP the 1st time through the order (10 IP) is 0.90, and his ERA the 2nd time (7 IP) is 6.43.

In addition to Jonathan Loaisiga, the Giants could ask for $0.9 million or a 40 FV pitching prospect ($1 million)…

  • RHP Trevor Stephan
  • RHP Matt Sauer
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo
  • RHP Chance Adams
  • RHP Garrett Whitlock
  • RHP Nolan Martinez

Of the players on the list above, I would personally be most interested in Domingo Acevedo. He had a 2.92 ERA in 64.2 IP at AA. His walk rate was a tad below 3 BB / 9 IP, and he struck out just over 7 batters / 9 IP. He had a solid 1.10 WHIP at AA. Acevedo’s upper 90s FB would presumably play up in the bullpen, where he is likely to land.

The proposal we have come up with reads as follows…

The San Francisco Giants trade LHP Madison Bumgarner to the New York Yankees for RHP Jonathan Loaisiga and RHP Domingo Acevedo

New York Mets

Former 1st round pick David Peterson ($4 million) could be of interest to the Giants, who are seeking pitching in return for Madison Bumgarner. He had a walk rate in the low 2s in 128 IP between A and A+; Peterson struck out around 8 batters / 9 IP and had an ERA of 1.82 in A and 4.33 (2.98 FIP and 3.41 xFIP) in A+. His GB rate was north of 60%. He is on a path to become a #4 starting pitcher. Anthony Kay ($3 million) is another LHP whom the Giants could be high on. He blew out his arm in 2016, likely from being overworked during his time with UConn (per Fangraphs). It is fair to say that Kay is a risky prospect. With that being said, his numbers were decent last season…

A

  • IP: 69.1
  • K/9: 10.13
  • BB/9: 2.86
  • ERA: 4.54

A+

  • IP: 53.1
  • K/9: 7.59
  • BB/9: 4.56
  • ERA: 3.88

Kay was seemingly unlucky at A (FIP: 3.56 and xFIP: 3.52) with his ERA a full point higher than his xFIP. If Kay can stay healthy, he could be a #4 starter as well.

The proposal we have come up with reads as follows…

The San Francisco Giants trade LHP Madison Bumgarner to the New York Mets for LHP David Peterson and LHP Anthony Kay

Thanks for reading.

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