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Milwaukee Brewers continue to have substantial trade talks for Madison Bumgarner, per report

Giants are believed to desire Corey Ray in a return package.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Rumors continue to percolate around the potential trade of Madison Bumgarner to the Brewers. The news is nothing new, but Jon Morosi indicated during a recent segment on MLB Network that Milwaukee is the most likely destination for the 2014 World Series MVP. That rumor has been reinforced by Kaelen Jones of Sports Illustrated.

Based upon Morosi’s insider knowledge, Milwaukee is the only serious suitor for Bumgarner with the Phillies more involved in going after big time free agents. If the Brewers can offer the Giants something to their liking, they can probably have the 4-time All-Star. It seems that San Francisco would like Corey Ray to be part of the package in return. The only question is, how much is David Stearns willing to give up for the once ace and three-time world champion? Reports suggest that the Brewers are mulling what his worth actually is.

Madison Bumgarner was once a legitimate ace that put on one of the great postseason performances ever in 2014. He is arguably the best postseason pitcher ever (8-3 with 2.11 ERA and 4-0 in the World Series). He threw 200 plus innings every season since 2011 prior to a 2017 shoulder injury due to a dirt bike accident. Prior to the injury, he looked to be in vintage form sporting a 3.00 ERA and 131 ERA+ through four games striking out 28 in 27 innings. He ended up pitching in 17 games and 111 innings and a 3.32 ERA. Coming into 2018, the Giants hoped for a big bounce back from their ace. Bad luck struck in the form of a line drive from Whit Merrifield during a spring training game. The result was a fractured left hand that put Bumgarner out of action until June of that year. He ultimately pitched in 21 games and 129.2 innings. His line was an ERA of 3.26, 119 ERA+, and 1.242 WHIP.

According to Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs, the Giants shouldn’t expect a huge haul from the Brewers. Bumgarner is only under contract for one more year for $12 million. As Sullivan points out there is a gap between the perception of Bumgarner and the reality. His profile looks like one of a pitcher in decline.

The big lefty still posted good ERAs over the past two years, but that is partly because he pitches in San Franscisco. What happens when he pitches his home games in Milwaukee? What is most concerning is that Bumgarner has been losing the ability to miss bats because of a decline in fastball velocity. He compensated last year by throwing more curveballs and cutters. He is still a good starting pitcher, and if healthy, should be a lock to pitch 200+ innings. But at this point, we probably shouldn’t expect him to be the “ace” that he has pitched like in past. An increase in fastball velocity would likely have to occur for that to happen, which goes against recent trends if you check out Bumgarner’s fastball velocity from 2016-2018.

The Brewers could use a left-handed starter in their rotation. A left-handed starter that pitches 200 innings and has the postseason reputation of Madison Bumgarner has real value, but David Stearns probably does not expect to get an ace in return from the Giants if he does make a trade. (Or maybe he is privy to something we are not, which would be awesome.) If he does pull the trigger on a trade, Stearns will trade based on the value of a declining left-hander who has been injured for the better part of both 2017 and 2018, and has only one year of control. Does a package including Corey Ray, who if he makes it to the majors will be controlled for the entirety of the prime of his career, represent fair value? And how much more would Milwaukee have to give up for a one-year rental?

Statistics Courtesy of Fangraphs