Oh how quickly things can change in MLB. Not too long ago, fans in San Francisco were crossing their fingers in hopes of landing either Shohei Ohtani or Giancarlo Stanton. Some even had the audacity to dream about landing both! That would have been a feat of epic proportions, and would have automatically made the Giants favourites in the National League.
But that was not to be.
Instead, the Giants missed on both occasions, and it seems that every effort to bring in the required oomph that team needs to compete has failed — so far. Now the Giants have set their sights on Evan Longoria.
In taking a five year, $86 million commitment off the Rays’ books, it seems like the Giants need some form of salary relief in 2018, and only one of the two players listed by Nightengale is even remotely likely, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors:
Taking on either of those contracts would be a fairly tall order for the cost-conscious Rays. Pence is entering the final season of a five-year, $90MM contract and is owed $18.5MM in 2018 — more than the $13.5MM that Longoria is set to take home this coming season. Obviously, taking on Pence’s deal would still provide the Rays with long-term cost savings — Longoria is owed $86MM over the next five years — but the short-term complications in that scenario are readily apparent.
Taking on Span’s deal would be closer to a cash-neutral proposition. He’s owed a $9MM salary plus a $4MM buyout in the coming year, though he will also reportedly be paid a deferred $3MM from his signing bonus come Jan. 20, 2018 as well, so even that scenario could require the Rays to take on some additional 2018 dollars.
Armed with one of the weakest systems in MLB, and with very few prominent prospects at the top levels of their system, the Giants don’t have much to offer the Rays in terms of prospects. Furthermore, the Rays have no incentive to settle for either of the players mentioned as they play out the final year of their rather expensive contracts.
If the Giants require salary relief, only one player makes sense for the Rays to target as they look to stay competitive in 2018:
LHP Madison Bumgarner
There’s no need to introduce MadBum to any of you, but just to recap a few of his many achievements, here they are,
- 1508 IP, 1313 hits, 342 BB, 1482 SO, 1.097 Whip, 3.01 ERA, 29.4 WAR
- 102 IP in playoffs over 16 games, with a 2.11 ERA and 0.899 Whip
- 2014 NL Babe Ruth Award
- All-Star games in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 (injured for much of 2017)
- 3 x World Series Winner and 2014 NL NLCS MVP, 2014 WS MVP
Needless to say, he’s earned his reputation as one of the most effective playoff performers in MLB history and would be a huge addition to the Rays rotation.
Madison Bumgarner’s Contract
In terms of finances, MadBum is owed the following:
- 18: $12M club option ($1.5M buyout)
- 19: $12M club option
In picking up the veteran southpaw, the Rays would be acquiring two years of control with the option to not carry on with him should he get injured in 2018, something that minimizes risk and also leaves open the option for a Qualifying Offer post-2019 that could net the Rays a first round draft pick.
Bumgarner was only able to put up 1.7 fWAR in 2017, but projects to 3.4 WAR on depth charts, providing the Rays with approximate surplus value to what Longoria offers the team at that cost while also giving the Rays salary relief in 2020-2022.
It would likely take one of the Rays several MLB capable starters to seal the deal, but the Rays would be trading from a position of strength to acquire an elite arm on a short term contract.
What Bumgarner would add to the Rays rotation
There are a lot of positives that would come from adding Bumgarner to the Rays rotation. Here they are in no certain order:
- Bumgarner has averaged 6.7 innings per start over the last 3 years, which is 0.7 more than Chris Archer’s 6.0 IP per start. Less work for the pen would be welcomed, particularly in the later parts of the season when bullpens are often taxed.
- Through 622 PA vs AL teams, Bumgarner has managed a .247/.290/.386 line against, with a 3.66 ERA and 1.155 whip, both of which are very close to Archer’s career 3.63 ERA and 1.214 whip
- Over the past 7 seasons, Bumgarner has managed 3.1 WAR or better (2017 pro-rated) and he’s managed a high of 5.2 WAR in 2015. Adding a 3 WAR pitcher (or better) to the Rays rotation places him 1st or 2nd, along with Archer, and if Blake Snell and Jacob Faria take the step forward most expect they will, it could lead to 5 starters with 2 WAR or better in the rotation.
- Adding a 2nd LHP to the rotation in Bumgarner also allows the Rays to use Ryan Yarbrough in the pen, which provides a second southpaw - and one that can pitch multiple innings when required.
The Giants are welcomed to come calling on Evan Longoria, but they don’t have the prospects to get it done, and the Rays don’t have the incentive to take anything less than what keeps them competitive in 2018.
So even if an Evan Longoria trade seems unlikely, if the Rays were to be tempted, Madison Bumgarner would need to be the forbidden fruit.
See what McCovey Chronicles, our sister site for the Giants, has to say about the potential of a Longoria trade.