Built on youthful exuberance, well-placed veteran pieces and a solid starting nine, the Atlanta Braves look to be the cream of the crop once again in the National League East, just with more competition. Every team except for the Miami Marlins made big-time upgrades to their rosters this offseason, signaling that the NL East was going to be a dog fight and that no team, again except for the Marlins, is out of it until a certain sized lady sings.
The Philadelphia Phillies made the biggest move of the baseball offseason by bringing in Bryce Harper on a 13-year agreement, solidifying one aspect of their outfield. To combine with Harper, the Phils traded for Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto, as well as signed Andrew McCutchen and other smaller, ancillary pieces to help solidify the roster.
The New York Mets made a large trade as well, bringing Robinson Cano and All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to the Big Apple, and those two have combined well with big-time rookie Peter Alonso to form a solid start to their season.
Even with having lost Harper to their divisional rivals, the Washington Nationals bolstered the strongest unit of their team by signing former Arizona Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal, compiling what looks to be the best starting rotation in spots one through three in the entire league, filled out by Corbin, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
The Braves did not make any big-time moves, just bringing back veteran Nick Markakis to be their starting right fielder in 2019. Another larger move was signing slugger but injury-prone third baseman Josh Donaldson to a one-year deal, which so far has been a good addition for the team.
An area that this team is still lacking in is starting pitching, especially with having to face the bats of Harper, Realmuto, Cano, Alonso, Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Anthony Rendon in their own division.
The current rotation has five capable arms in it, led by Mike Foltynewicz as the staff’s ace, which ranks near the middle of the pack in terms of how good of a hurler he is. For his support, Julio Teheran, Max Fried, Kevin Gausman, and newbie Mike Soroka, who only has 10 major-league starts to his name from 2018 and 2019.
A name that would immediately boost their chances for not only winning the NL East but making some noise in the NL playoffs this year? Madison Bumgarner.
The lefty hurler for the San Francisco Giants has been a constant topic of conversation in trade talks, rumored to have been discussed by the Braves as well as the Milwaukee Brewers, at least. Bum, whose no-trade clause list was just released and confused a great number of people by only including competing teams, has 2019 as his final year on his deal before going out into free agency.
The teams included on his no-trade list include New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Braves, Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Phillies, and St. Louis Cardinals. While no-trade lists are normally used for players to block being traded to rebuilding non-competing teams, Bum is using this list to be picky for who he gets traded to and if he can finagle any financial additives from the team that is acquiring him, which is a pretty savvy move for the veteran.
So far this season for the Giants, Bumgarner has made nine starts, pitching 55.2 innings and earning a 2-4 record, which seems pretty ugly on the surface. However, looking at his other numbers, his 3.88 ERA is quite solid, he has a 1.168 WHIP and his 29:4 strikeout to walk ratio is sparkling to being his 2019 campaign.
The Braves have developed a ton of their young prospects into big league talents lately, and that has been the driving force in what has propelled this team to be as successful as they currently are. However, they have shown a willingness to be alright with trading young farm prospects in order to get the big guns simply due to their involvement in talks for bigger players, and Bum qualifies as such.
Bumgarner would be a really good get for the Braves, and they would immediately reap the benefits of slotting him into their starting rotation. In turn, Soroka would most likely move to the bullpen for a long relief role, as he has the least amount of experience, only 21 years of age so far.
This move would help garner more wins throughout the season, regardless of how early they would acquire him, and he would be a good veteran presence who has plenty of playoff experience to help balance out the youthfulness of this Braves squad.
If the Braves were looking to make that move to get them back to the top of contention in the NL East, adding Madison Bumgarner would be exactly what they need.