Dylan Bundy is reportedly on the trade market. The Baltimore Orioles are shopping the former top prospect according to Mark Feinsand of MLB Network.
The Orioles are working to trade RHP Dylan Bundy, according to a source. No deal is imminent, but one appears to be getting close. The 27-year-old went 7-14 with a 4.79 ERA last season, and he's entering the second of three arbitration-eligible seasons.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 27, 2019
It’s been a while, but once upon a time Dylan Bundy was one of the best prospects in all of baseball. He debuted in the Major Leagues as a 19-year-old after his only season in the minor leagues coming that same year. But he missed the next year with Tommy John surgery. And he also missed most of the following season, too. And most of the next season. Following his Tommy John surgery he dealt with several other injuries, but none that required surgeries.
But after his surgery he never quite regained the velocity that he once showed. He’s been in the Major Leagues in each of the last four seasons for the Orioles. Three of those seasons have resulted in league average, to slightly above-league average performance. In 2016, 2017, and 2019 his ERA+ was 107, 102, and 99. During the 2018 season it was 78 as he posted a 5.45 ERA that year – allowing a league worst 41 home runs.
Last season he posted a 4.79 ERA in 161.2 innings. That worked out to be a 99 ERA+ – right at the league average. He showed a solid walk rate with 58 free passes given up, and he missed a good number of bats as he struck out 162. But as he’s done throughout his career, he gave up a high rate of home runs (29).
The Orioles didn’t exactly have the best development in place for Dylan Bundy. In the minors he simply couldn’t stay healthy. He threw a grand total of 167.1 innings in his entire minor league career. Bundy has been healthy over the last four seasons, though. But Baltimore’s pitching plan hasn’t exactly been lauded. They have been a team that at times used a “one plan fits all” for their pitchers, eliminating pitches that Bundy had thrown in the past and tried to have him focus elsewhere as an organizational philosophy rather than a move to specifically help him.
There are some reasons to have some hold ups when it comes to trading for Dylan Bundy, though. In 2016 he split time between the bullpen and rotation for Baltimore and averaged 95.0 MPH. In the three seasons since he’s watched his average fastball velocity fall to 92.5, 92.1, and 91.6 MPH.
With that said, it hasn’t really led to a difference in his performance. As noted above, three of the four seasons in the Major Leagues have been about the same, with the lone exception of 2018. Right now, he’s a guy who is a #4 caliber starter. He’ll keep you around most games, and he’s been healthy enough to make 28+ starts three seasons in a row. That has some value.
There may also be a little bit of an upside here. His offspeed stuff is above-average across the board. It’s his fastball that’s been the pitch that he’s had problems with during his big league career. And it’s gotten worse every year according to Fangraphs pitch values, going from a -0.7 pitch in 2016 to a -21.7 pitch in 2019. Among the 104 pitchers with at least 120 innings pitched in 2019, Bundy’s fastball was the 3rd worst.
The Reds have gone from a team that can’t develop pitching, or get much from the pitching that they do have, to a team that feels like it’s near the top of the game. Derek Johnson and Caleb Cotham helped take the pitching staff (along with, of course, acquiring better pitching) from one of the worst in baseball to one of the best in a single year. Kyle Boddy’s hire to help develop the pitching in the farm system was just the next step to rebuilding the entire pitching philosophy of the organization.
If the Reds could acquire Dylan Bundy and improve his fastball in one way or the other – be it by adding velocity, better sequencing with his other offerings, changing a grip slightly and giving it a different look – whatever it is, there’s something to work with given his league average performance now despite one of the worst performing fastballs in the game to go with above-average secondary stuff.
Cincinnati has been a “buy low” kind of organization for as long as I can remember. Sometimes that pays off when you get a Brandon Phillips or a Dan Straily or a Scooter Gennett. Other times it doesn’t quite work out. With Dylan Bundy, the downside as always is a guy gets hurt and you don’t get much from it. But assuming he’s healthy, he’s a guy you should feel comfortable with being a league average pitcher at worst. And he’s got two years of team control left on his contract, so it wouldn’t be a short-term buy, exactly, either.