Why Madison Bumgarner’s no-trade list might matter for Braves

Credit: Mark Bradley

Credit: Mark Bradley

Giants starter Madison Bumgarner has been among this generation’s best postseason performers, but as San Francisco enters a transition phase and the towering lefty approaches free agency, a change of zip code may soon be in order.

Bumgarner’s eight-team no-trade list was reported Saturday, courtesy of The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The list includes the Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, Astros, Yankees, Brewers, Phillies and Cardinals; all presumed contenders.

Just because a team is listed doesn’t mean Bumgarner rejects the notion of playing for that franchise. He simply has the right to approve or decline a trade to one of those eight teams.

Rather than focus on less-preferred specific cities or organizations, Bumgarner chose eight franchises that could logically try to add him for a playoff push. Notice the Dodgers’ absence, since Bumgarner likely figures the Giants wouldn’t trade their icon to a hated rival.

As Rosenthal acknowledged, this strategy essentially allows him to pick his destination if dealt. Non-contending teams have no reason to acquire the soon-to-be free agent, but this method lets him choose between, say, the Yankees and Cardinals rather than having no say.

In other words, Bumgarner selected the teams likeliest to acquire him midseason, thus giving him more power over where he ends up if traded.

That explains the Braves’ inclusion here: Bumgarner, a North Carolina native, is believed to be keen on a return to the South. Some familiar with his thinking believe the Braves would be his preferred destination if moved.

The bullpen undoubtedly is the Braves’ weak point, but Bumgarner would bring a championship pedigree lacking in the rotation. He owns a 2.11 postseason ERA across 12 series, including a memorable 2014 run when he borderline carried the Giants to one of their three titles in his career.

That said, Bumgarner isn’t the same ace he once was. He has a 3.99 ERA through eight starts this season, collecting 51 strikeouts against eight walks. His expiring contract lessens his value, though if he wants to be in Atlanta, that would certainly be conducive to extension talks.

But to this point, however, there’s no indication the Braves plan to pursue the four-time All-Star; it’s just commonly viewed as an ideal match.

San Francisco likely wouldn’t move Bumgarner until closer to the trade deadline. Much could change by then, but the Braves – sitting at 19-20 entering Saturday’s game – could be in the market for a veteran starter. There’s still plenty of appeal in adding even this edition of Bumgarner, be it around the deadline or in free agency.

His no-trade list might not warrant much discussion today, but Bumgarner could be a name to watch if the Braves are still in contention come July.