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Front Page: Bumgarner V. Wheeler: Who Should the Twins Pursue?

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#1 Nash Walker

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 09:30 PM

Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler headline the second tier of the starting pitching free agent class, representing realistic Twins targets. Both will likely demand contracts of four or more years and at least $18 million per season. Which pitcher holds the advantage?The case for Bumgarner:

Bumgarner is one of the most prominent names in MLB, and for good reason. He was drafted by the Giants with the 10th overall pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft as an 18-year-old. Bumgarner quickly moved up the system, debuting in 2008 at Class-A and pitching 10 innings in the big leagues by 2009.

Bumgarner started in 18 games in 2010 with a 3.00 ERA in 111 innings. That breakout season was a bridge to six straight dominant campaigns as Bumgarner appeared in four All-Star games and finished in the top 10 for the Cy Young each of those years. This stretch included three championships and a World Series MVP Award in 2014.

For the first time since 2010, Bumgarner started less than 30 games in 2017 after a dirt bike accident sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder. Bad luck struck again in 2018 when a line drive drilled his throwing hand. Bumgarner nearly matched his combined total of 38 starts between those two years with 34 in 2019.

In his illustrious 11-year career, Bumgarner has never posted an ERA above the 3.90 mark he had in 2019. Consistency is perhaps his greatest asset, and Bumgarner is still just 30-years-old. There seems to be an assumption that Bumgarner has less left to give. His average pitch velocity actually increased in 2019:

chart (2)

With Bumgarner also comes postseason experience and October mystic. Bumgarner is 8-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 102 1/3 playoff innings. It is unwise to hang your hat on this, but there is absolutely a bulldog mentality and calm demeanor that gives Bumgarner an edge when the stakes are highest.

The case for Zack Wheeler:

One of the most enticing names of the offseason, Wheeler enters free agency after two phenomenal seasons with the Mets. Wheeler was selected by the Giants with the 6th overall pick in the 2009 Amateur Draft. Wheeler was traded to New York for Carlos Beltran at the 2011 deadline.

Wheeler was called up in May of 2013 and looked great in his first two seasons, posting a 3.50 ERA across 285 1/3 innings. In the spring of 2015, Wheeler had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and was sidelined for the next two years.

Wheeler returned in 2017 and was clearly rusty as he allowed 50 runs in just 86 1/3 innings. Full recovery showed in 2018 and Wheeler heaved his way to a sterling 3.25 FIP and 12-7 record, right back on track. Wheeler followed up his bounceback season with a 3.48 FIP and 195 strikeouts in 195 1/3 innings in 2019.

Unlike Bumgarner, Wheeler is an overpowering pitcher with a fastball that averaged 96.7 MPH last year. He is throwing as hard as ever and has a nice complement of pitches. Here is how Wheeler mixed up his offerings compared to 2018 and the seasons prior to Tommy John surgery:

chart (1)

For the Twins, Wheeler may have an edge over Bumgarner as he is dominant against right-handed batters. Righties hit just .245/.274/.360 off him in 2019. With the American League Central loaded with right-handed sluggers such as Franmil Reyes, Eloy Jimenez, and Jorge Soler, Wheeler could give an added advantage to Minnesota.

Who should get the final rose?

Both of these guys are proven, but Bumgarner offers stability and consistency that Wheeler does not. On the contrary, Wheeler holds upside that could turn him into a superstar, while Bumgarner has possibly reached his 95th percentile of production.

With either, the Twins are getting a serious upgrade to the staff and each guy brings different assets and limitations to the table. Let’s take a look at how closely they compared in 2019:

Screen Shot 2019 11 05 At 10.20.17 PM

Who should the Twins get?

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#2 mikelink45

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 09:34 PM

Sign the one that is willing to sign with us.This is not an either or, we could afford both, but the fact is, we have to take those willing to become Twins.

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#3 Pdxtwins

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 10:36 PM

Sign both and I'll be happy.
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#4 James

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 10:42 PM

Yes.

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You can come up with statistics to prove anything. Forty percent of all people know that.


#5 cardsfan

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 10:54 PM

Here's to 13-12 pitchers.
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#6 theBOMisthebomb

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 01:34 AM

Both. I leatned long ago that successful people go for 'both' and less successful people don't. The Twins have the funds.
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#7 old nurse

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 06:34 AM

Neither the player nor their agents will think either pitcher is second tier.4/72 is a dream owner contract. They will look to slot in behind Strassburg. They would be looking more like a Corbin 6/140.The question becomes what does it take to get them to your team. 4/100? That also sets the price for a Berrios extention. 3 SP would make up nearly half of your payroll at some point. They should not get both as advocated.


#8 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 07:40 AM

I don't believe we sign any of the Top 5 available SP's. I see us resigning Odorizzi and Pineda. We will likely move on from Gibson. They do need to cash in on some of the excess prospects they have at some point. So look for a trade of someone along the lines of Gray, Archer or Boyd.

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#9 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 07:54 AM

I’d probably go with Wheeler and then sign Keuchel. However, if the FO can’t land either MadBum or Wheeler I’d definitely be looking into acquiring Ray or E-Rod.
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#10 Monkeypaws

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 08:46 AM

If only it was as easy as walking into Pitchers R Us and picking what you want.

 

Free agency is more akin to Black Friday at Walmart, with a real possibility of getting nothing but trampled.

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#11 Riverbrian

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 09:06 AM

You pursue both to increase your odds of signing one.

 

You don't place all eggs in one basket. 

 

Actually... the Twins should pursue 45 to increase the odds of getting 4. 

 

If the question is who is better between the two. Give me Bumgarner. He's left handed, he's young, his career is far from over and it's been a great career so far. 

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#12 dbminn

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 09:34 AM

I prefer Wheeler. I'll be happy if they get either one.

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#13 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 09:48 AM

If only it was as easy as walking into Pitchers R Us and picking what you want.
 
Free agency is more akin to Black Friday at Walmart, with a real possibility of getting nothing but trampled.

Disagree, but love that comment :)
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#14 travkro

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 10:33 AM

I wouldn't mind either one but I think they are going to have to trade for a top line starter. Robbie Ray, Mike Minor, Sonny Gray or they should go after one of the younger guys, German Marquez, Luis Castillo, Sandy Alcatarra. It'll cost prospects but that is exactly what they are. They just waived the top pitching prospect from a couple years ago in Gonsalves.

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#15 ashbury

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 11:34 AM

If only it was as easy as walking into Pitchers R Us and picking what you want.

 

Free agency is more akin to Black Friday at Walmart, with a real possibility of getting nothing but trampled.

More like the Dollar Store, one that happens to have a Maserati dealership in one of the departments, and a couple of guys selling $10M yachts in the back.

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#16 Physics Guy

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 12:37 PM

Agree with the majority here, go for both. They can afford both and sign Odorizzi to a 3-4 year contract. We would have a 26 yr old Berrios and three 30 year old starters. Hard to believe Bumgarner is only 9 months older than Wheeler, with Odorizzi in between. Leave the last spot for Thorpe, Dobnak, Smeltzer or Graterol.
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#17 Mike Sixel

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 01:28 PM

I prefer Wheeler, if I can only have one of them. But both would be good....

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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#18 darin617

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 02:05 PM

Neither of the 2. Wheeler has only really had a couple of good seasons and not sure if he won't fall back into his injury filled past. MadBum has so many miles on that arm and he has already lost the velocity on the fastball and will lose more as years go by. Any team that gives him 4 years will regret the last 2 for sure.

 

The Twins would be better of trading for a pitcher like Jon Gray from Colorado. A change of scenery and a better lineup could do wonders for him.

 

Jordan Lyles should be another target to look into signing.


#19 Mike Sixel

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 02:28 PM

 

Neither of the 2. Wheeler has only really had a couple of good seasons and not sure if he won't fall back into his injury filled past. MadBum has so many miles on that arm and he has already lost the velocity on the fastball and will lose more as years go by. Any team that gives him 4 years will regret the last 2 for sure.

 

The Twins would be better of trading for a pitcher like Jon Gray from Colorado. A change of scenery and a better lineup could do wonders for him.

 

Jordan Lyles should be another target to look into signing.

 

Wheeler has been better than Gray, and doesn't cost any prospects. If you won't sign Wheeler, what FA will you ever sign?

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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#20 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 02:47 PM

I'm tired of the narrative that says we cannot go out and get Cole personally... I want Cole or Strassburg (if he opts out).

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