Outside of the ever-present desire for additional quality arms in the bullpen (and, injuries to Pedro Strop and Brandon Morrow pending, probably of the back-end, late-inning type), it’s not yet really clear what needs the Chicago Cubs will have during trade season. We’re still two months away from the All-Star break, and a whole lot can go wrong between now and then, both in terms of your roster’s health and your team’s production.
That said, it’s a pretty fair guess that the Cubs will be in the buyer column when things get swinging in July, and, like I said, they’ll probably be looking in the bullpen. You actually hope they don’t have any other obvious needs by then.
Elsewhere in the NL Central, though, you could argue the needs are much more obvious, and probably much more pressing.
For both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers, it’s a virtual look that they will be in the market for starting pitching come July. The Brewers almost built their roster around anticipating that need, having added only Gio Gonzalez (and only after the season began when he fell into their lap). The Cardinals had what looked to be a really formidable rotation when the season began, but injuries and young pitcher ineffectiveness have crushed them.
The worst ERAs in the league among starting pitchers have both the Brewers and Cardinals in the bottom half (and the Cardinals’ WAR is even worse), with some other team best in the league:
That is all to say, it’s pretty fair that if a pundit is breaking down the best trade partners for the Giants when they inevitably sell off lefty Madison Bumgarner, the Brewers and Cardinals should be on that list:
Column: Ranking 10 potential landing spots for Madison Bumgarner. https://t.co/MJmf7zOVt5
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 14, 2019
Olney spoke with rival evaluators to get a pulse on the best fits for Bumgarner, and, although the Padres are up top for obvious reasons, the Cardinals are next at number two, and the Brewers are number five. And, hey, if either club wants to give up a bunch of prospects for two months of Bumgarner, I’d actually be fine with that. Er, well, I suppose it’s easy for me to say that now, here in May. But you get my point.
Bumgarner, who turns 30 the day after the Trade Deadline, is not the dominant beast he once was. The last few years have seen him deal with a variety of injuries, a big drop in velocity, and a sinking of his peripherals. Likely still a good guy to have in the middle of your rotation? Absolutely. Probably better than the average pitcher at dealing with a pennant race and the postseason? I’m sure he is. But race-altering ace? A little more doubtful.
Oh, also, maybe the Cardinals and Brewers can get into a bit of a bidding war for Bumgarner when the time comes. That’d be neat.
Also, Bumgarner is a notorious red-ass, who would just fit – from a Cubs fan enjoyment perspective – on the Brewers or Cardinals in a divisional race, right?