The New York Yankees are interested in both Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman. Which arm should they prioritize?
Quite an image, if you think about it. One on hand, a postseason legend and multi-time World Series champion comes to continue great October work in the Bronx. On the other hand, a youngster from the New York area comes home from a losing team to get a fresh start.
Well, folks, the vision you just pictured may soon become a reality. Per Ken Davidoff of The New York Post, New York has shown interest in both pitchers as the July 31 deadline draws closer.
It certainly makes sense for the Yankees to be interested in Bumgarner and Stroman. Not only are Luis Severino and Domingo German both on the injured list, but the Bronx Bombers lost the Dallas Keuchel sweepstakes. Instead of joining the Yankees, the former Houston Astros ace signed with the Atlanta Braves.
Enter Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman, two quality arms on teams who won’t sniff the playoffs even with Toucan Sam’s nose. Bumgarner is a free agent at the end of the year too, and Stroman only has a year of team control left. Odds are greater than none they will be available via a trade soon and the Yankees will be interested.
The question, however, is which man should GM Brian Cashman prioritize? Let’s take a look at both and find out!
The case for Bumgarner
On record alone, the Yankees should pursue Madison Bumgarner. He owns a 3.08 career ERA and has won three World Series rings pitching for the San Francisco Giants. His five scoreless relief innings in Game 7 of the 2014 Fall Classic netted him World Series MVP honors and he is a true blue ace. It may not seem like much, but championship experience matters.
Bumgarner’s birthday also happens to be on Aug. 1, and he turns 30 this year. What better gift than to be traded away from the losing Giants to the contending Yankees?
However, Bumgarner comes with some concerns. He is 3-6 with a 3.83 ERA on the year and while that isn’t terrible, his groundball rate (GB%) is down. It stands at 36.8% on the year, well down from his career mark of 43.7%. His hard contact rate is also at 45%, up from a 41.6% mark last year and well above his career rate of 29.9%.
That aside, however, Cashman should be able to swing a deal for Madison Bumgarner on the cheap. The Giants are well out of the race and in no position to demand a king’s ransom for their ace. Trading him means dumping salary, so a collection of low to mid-level minor league talent should suffice. Knowing Cashman, he could probably land the man they call “MadBum” without giving up any of New York’s Top 30 prospects.
The case for Stroman
Now, let’s talk about Marcus Stroman, the Long Island product currently stuck north of the border. The 28-year-old leads the majors with eight losses but has also posted a 3.31 ERA through 14 starts this year.
Stroman has also posted a strong GB% of 56.5%. Moreover, he is a completely different pitcher this season. He has abandoned his slider to the point of throwing it just 3.1% of the time, down from 16.7% last year and 14.6% for his career. This year, he has more than doubled his curveball’s usage, up to nearly 31% of the time compared to 13% for his career. Stroman has also thrown his cutter more this season.
Not only that, but Marcus Stroman is well familiar with Yankee Stadium. His Blue Jays share the AL East with the Yankees, and he has made nine career starts in the Bronx as a result. But there’s a catch. Stroman is 2-5 with a 6.37 ERA in the Bronx. Against the Yankees, regardless of the ballpark, he’s 6-5 with a 4.21 ERA in 16 starts.
However, those numbers still raise concerns. Was Stroman just on the receiving end of some strong Yankees lineups? Or, will he prove to be Sonny Gray 2.0 and just prove unable to handle raucous Yankee Stadium crowds?
Mind you, the same concerns exist for Madison Bumgarner. Granted, he owns a 2.57 ERA at Yankee Stadium, but has made just one start there. Moving from pitcher-friendly Oracle Park to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium could prove problematic, even if it’s just for half a season.
The verdict: Stroman, come home!
This was a tough decision, largely because Madison Bumgarner is a playoff legend and owns a 2.11 career ERA in the playoffs. The man is one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation and he won the 2014 World Series by putting the Giants on his back.
However, Cashman’s negotiating prowess aside, the Giants are in the midst of a rebuild and won’t give up Madison Bumgarner easily. Moreover, he’s logged a lot of innings for someone his age.
Thus, better for Cashman to trade for Marcus Stroman and his one remaining year of arbitration. He could come ever so slightly cheaper and knows the AL East well. Just ask the Boston Red Sox, against whom he has a 3.70 career ERA.
That isn’t to say Madison Bumgarner would be a poor fit in the Bronx. His baseball IQ is high enough he would immediately adjust his approach for Yankee Stadium.
Just the same, Marcus Stroman just makes more sense. He’s younger, has a year of team control left, and is a better option in terms of building a dynasty.
Bumgarner, on the other hand, would probably just be a hired gun.
Thus, better for New York to commit its time, energy, and resources to bring Stroman back to the Empire State so he can put on the pinstripes and reach his full potential.