Tier 2- Mike Minor & Madison Bumgarner
There are a few solid left-handers on the market this year, and a notch above Matt Boyd are a couple of veterans with a great deal of experience, and likely a lot left in the tank.
Mike Minor has been arguably the best pitcher in the American League this year, which has been a pleasant surprise for the Texas Rangers. I could probably have included him in Tier 1, but I chose to keep him here because a) I’m not sure I’d bank on him keeping this up, and b) the Rangers may not trade him, unless they’re blown away by an offer of course.
The 31-year-old is 8-4 this season, carrying an impressive 2.73 ERA and a WHIP 1.164 in 19 starts and 122 innings pitched. He leads the American League in bWAR for starting pitchers with a 5.9 mark already, and has 121 strikeouts against 44 walks.
Minor has some extra appeal because of the affordable salary of 9.5 million (which includes a $333,333 annual bonus), and he’s under contract for next season at the same price. That said, the Rangers are going to hold him in higher regard because of that, as they should.
When it comes to Madison Bumgarner, I’m very confident that contenders will be interested in a guy with as much playoff pedigree and express as he has on his resume. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season, but even as a rental he could carry value for an acquiring team, even if the fiery southpaw might not be quite as good as he was at his peak.
After making just 38 starts over the last two campaigns, Bumgarner has had a nice bounce-back season. He’s 5-7 with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.178 WHIP in 21 starts and 125.2 innings pitched. He’ll turn 30 on August 1st, and to me, he’s proven that he’s capable of being a rotation workhorse, and probably the type of guy you want in your playoff rotation. He’s also not that expensive, making just 12 million this year at the end of the team-friendly deal he signed in San Francisco.
Will teams pay a premium for a rental in today’s market? I guess we’ll find out. It’ll be interesting to see which of these two southpaws fetch the bigger return. Minor’s numbers and contract control say he’s the obvious choice, but don’t discount the playoff resume that Bumgarner carries either.