This is the fifth part of an examination to see what top starting pitchers might be available for the Yankees to acquire.
Here are the previous installments:
WHO TO GET? (Part 4) - (the link here is coming…)
Many (most?) baseball experts, wanna-be experts, writers, commentators, podcasters, posters, and bloggers feel that the Yankees need at least one more starting pitcher to enhance the club. There is this sense that the Yankees need an ace. I agree.
I also think that with the post-season seemingly within easy reach, the time is NOW for the Yankees to build the rotation that will allow them to dominate in the post season and bring home a championship.
But, this begs the question… WHO TO GET? Is there an ace pitcher that will be available before the end of July? If so, who?
In this exercise, I am not going to speculate on what the Yankees might need to give up to get an ace starting pitcher. Rather, I’m just interested in finding a would-be ace who is available. Or, rather, is an ace even available?
I have come to the conclusion that looking at the top pitchers by various metrics might not be the way to go. Instead, let’s look at pitchers on teams that are most likely out of the race.
Is there a ace-type pitcher on a losing team in the National League with little or no chance for the postseason that might make sense for the Yankees? Let’s take a look…
New York Mets:
The Mets are 40-50 (.444). The Mets are out of it. But, the Mets are only 7 games back in the Wild Card. Never mind that they are in 11th place, seven games out. They’re only seven games out. This fact will make the Mets believe that they are in it. Ya’ Gotta Believe!
I believe that fact will make the Mets (very) reluctant sellers. Zack Wheeler is supposedly on the block, but we’ve heard that over the years about Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard as well. I don’t believe it.
When was the last time the Mets dealt a big name pitcher away? 1977? That was when they traded Tom Seaver. The Franchise. Tom Terrific. That might have been the last time.
But, even if the Mets were 1-161, they wouldn’t trade an ace pitcher to the Yankees. No way. Never. Move on from here. Getting a Mets pitcher isn’t happening.
The Marlins are actually behind the Mets in the National League East. They would be sellers, but…
Caleb Smith (4-4, 3.50) - This former Yankee isn’t an ace. He’s pitching well, but he doesn’t move the needle much.
Trevor Richards (3-10, 4.18) - He might be a future ace, but he’s not the pitcher to help the Yankees in 2019.
Sandy Alcantata (4-8, 3.82) - See Trevor Richards. He’s young, he has potential, he’s cost controlled. Young teams that are out of the race hold on to guys like these. On top of which, I don’t think Derek Jeter is trading a possible future ace (Richards or Alcantata) to his old pals in the Bronx.
San Francisco Giants:
Which basically brings this exercise to a close.
(There will be one more segment in this series that will come tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll ask the question about an interesting long-shot candidate to fill this role for the Yankees, but for now…)
The Giants. 41-48. They are only 5.5 back in the Wild Card, but they’re an an old team, a fading team, and they have an ace, a fading ace:
It seems like MadBum is 100 years old, but he’s only 29.
He’s 5-7, 4.03. Not great, but not terrible.
It is said that the Giants want a small fortune for Bumgarner. It might be worth it.
He is young enough to find his greatness again.
He’s extremely skilled.
And, as we’ve seen through this exercise, there just is not a plethora of great talent available.
Justin Verlander is 36. Max Scherzer is 34. Bumgarner is 29.
Verlander didn’t have super great years in his early 30’s… Lots of great pitcher have a down period in their career. Great pitchers adapt and find ways to turn it around. Sometimes, the emotion that comes with being traded and getting back in a pennant race is what helps a pitcher make a huge step forward.
As an example, since this time last year, we’ve seen Cole Hamels pitch better after being acquired by the Cubs and getting into pennant races.
Excellent pitchers can find another way, but before they do that, they sometimes, over the course of their career, tend to slump a little. Sometimes excellent pitchers take a step (or two) back before taking a few big steps forward.
Is Madison Bumgarner that pitcher? Could Madison Bumgarner become great in New York in a pennant race and the post season? I think so.
Is there a better post season pitcher in baseball today than this guy? Sure, those big moments were years ago, but if you’re going to take a chance on a big game pitcher…
The Yankees need an ace now to eat innings for the bullpen to keep those pitchers sharp for the playoffs, but the Yankees also need a big guy to be big in the playoffs.
Throughout this exercise, there’s only one pitcher with the excellent history, the age, the handiness (Bumgarner is a lefty after all), and the possibility of actually being traded. And it’s this guy.
You know what? He’s worth taking a chance on - a big chance. A huge chance. This is the year, right now, that the Yankees have to go for it. They’re all but certain to get to the post season. The need a big guy to help them win there - to take the pressure off the other pitchers.
If the Yankees acquire Bumgarner, he’d immediately be the Game 1 starter in the playoffs. Bumgarner would get the call against another team’s ace. That would allow Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton (I’m not counting on Luis Severino at this point, but I’d even include him on this list) to face the opponent’s #2, #3, or #4 pitcher. I like those match-ups much better than any of the three facing an opponent’s #1. I think that alone would give the Yankees a huge advantage in a short series.
Bumgarner is going to cost a lot. It’s going to hurt.
But after going through all of this… would I rather have Madison Bumgarner or Mike Minor? MadBum or Trevor Bauer?
MadBum is my answer. I’d rather have MadBum.
To me, it’s the only choice. Of the pitchers that could be available, to help the Yankees now, to help put them over the top, I would put my resources to acquiring Madison Bumgarner.
Break out all stops, go big or go home… Bring this (former) ace to the Big Apple.
I know it’s not a popular choice. I know my argument is built more on hope and sentimentality than logic, but I’d like to take my chances with him.
Bring me Bumgarner.