MLB trade deadline has teams clamoring for pitchers

With the All-Star break now complete, World Series contenders have their eyes set on one thing: pitching.



The San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning on Thursday, June 20, 2019, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Pete Mills, Assistant Sports Editor


With the All-Star Break now complete in Major League Baseball, there are two main actions in the minds of higher-ups in front offices: buying and selling.

The moves front offices are going to make before the playoffs have to be made by 3 p.m. (CDT) July 31, but their implications can last for decades. Teams whose postseason hopes are underwhelming will trade their Big League assets in the hopes of obtaining young prospects or draft picks. The teams whose hopes are high to get some World Series bling will try to fill holes in their roster.

The most common thread among all of this is pitching. Clubs looking to make a deep run in the playoffs are clamoring for more arms for their bullpens or rotations, and this is where most of the moves are likely to fall.

Madison Bumgarner — San Francisco Giants The man known as “MadBum” does not throw like he used to, but he still has the same fiery personality.

The 29-year-old has been a go-to starter for the Giants for his entire career, earning four-straight bids to the All-Star game. At his peak, the left-hander was consistently posting sub-3 ERA seasons. While teams looking to trade for him aren’t likely going to get that from him this season — he has a 4.03 ERA thus far in 2019 — they would get a solid pitcher who could make starts in the middle of any rotation in the majors.

Bumgarner also has another trait that will be attractive to buyers: his experience in the World Series. He has three rings, but more importantly, he’s one of the most proficient World Series pitchers in MLB history. If he never pitches in the Series again, he will retire with the lowest World Series ERA of all time at 0.25. That’s 1 earned run given up in 36 innings.

For one of the first times in years, the Giants are not a contender. With Bumgarner on the downward trend, the Giants will possibly try to get some younger faces in their ranks.

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The New York Yankees have the best record in the American League right now but could use another arm in the rotation. Bumgarner’s contract is reasonable at $12 million, which will be attractive for the Yankees because the team is already well above the MLB luxury-tax mark.

Zack Wheeler — New York Mets Met General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen expected his team to perform far better this season after making moves to obtain veteran hitter Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz. But the baseball gods did not have higher plans for the Mets this season, and the team will almost surely look to sell come July 31.

The right-hander has put up a 4.69 ERA this season, which could put him in the fourth or fifth spot in teams that are struggling to fill out their rotations. That’s not really a whole lot worse than what Bumgarner is offering, considering teams could obtain Wheeler’s contract, which is a fraction of the cost.

Although he’s been inconsistent for the Mets this year (he gave up 6 earned runs to the Phillies in his last start), teams looking for a bargain will make a run at him. The Boston Red Sox are reportedly making a big push for a starting pitcher, said Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. This could be a possible landing spot for Wheeler, because the Sox have similar budget problems as the Yankees.

Will Smith — San Francisco Giants If the Giants make some smart moves in the next few weeks, they could be a massive force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

Left-handed reliever Will Smith has been an absolute monster this season, posting a 1.98 ERA. He’s only given up 3 home runs so far (plus a homer in the All-Star Game).

Teams will line up to make bids for Smith. The Los Angeles Dodgers could be a great buyer for Smith, along with the Yankees and Red Sox. They’d get a very dependable arm for their bullpens, as Smith only gives up 0.798 walks or hits per inning pitched this season.