In theory, would you trade Bundy for another member of the 2011, first-round pitching class? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

In theory, would you trade Bundy for another member of the 2011, first-round pitching class?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Sometimes I like revisiting the past, and throwing on those hindsight glasses.

Many times, things are clearer with history’s reflection, but not always.

I was thinking about that Sunday night with Trevor Bauer on the mound for the Cleveland Indians against the Orioles.

Th 26-year-old Bauer is having a pretty outstanding second half after a rough start to 2017. As impossible as it seems, Bauer is pitching in his sixth big league season, having made his debut in June 2012, a year after being drafted third overall out of UCLA.

His Bruins’ teammate, Gerrit Cole, was first in that draft, and has established a solid career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Danny Hultzen, the former University of Virginia star, was taken second by the Seattle Mariners, but his career has been derailed by injuries. He hasn’t made the majors, and left shoulder surgery kept him out of action for the entire 2017 season.

And the fourth pick that year?

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It was the first high school pick of the 2011 draft, a right-hand pitcher from Oklahoma named Dylan Bundy. Around here, we all know Bundy’s story. A tremendous prep pitcher and workout-aholic who has been felled by elbow surgery and other injuries, but is now beginning to realize his potential as the Orioles’ most consistent starter in 2017.

There were some other pitchers of note in that first round. Archie Bradley, also an Oklahoma prep star, went seventh to Arizona; Vanderbilt righty Sonny Gray was the 18th pick by the Oakland A’s; Joe Ross was 25th overall by the San Diego Padres and last year’s AL Rookie of the Year, Michael Fulmer, a third Oklahoman, was a supplemental first-rounder (44th overall by the New York Mets).

The best pitcher of the entire group was taken 11th overall by the then-Florida Marlins: Cuban refugee and Tampa resident Jose Fernandez, whose career was a shooting star before his death last year in a boating accident at age 24.

Yeah, that’s a pretty good pitching class. Really, it was a pretty good first round overall: Others selected in the first round in 2011 included Anthony Rendon (sixth overall), Francisco Lindor (eighth), Javy Baez (ninth), George Springer (11th) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (40th), among others.

But let’s dismiss the offensive players and concentrate on the pitching from that first round.

If you could start now, would Bundy be your pick over the others going forward? Think future, and not necessarily past.

Gray and Cole began this season about neck-and-neck when it comes to career WAR, with Bauer and Fulmer making up the second tier and Bundy, Ross and Bradley bunched up in a third tier.

This year, though, the WAR standings for 2011 pitching first-rounders are: Bradley (as a shutdown reliever), Cole, Fulmer, Gray, Bundy, Bauer. All six are in the Top 50 in WAR this season.

It’s fairly tight. And all of those guys are older than Bundy, who turns 25 in November, with the exception of Fulmer, who is four months younger. (Ross is also younger, but his 2017 season was marred by season-ending elbow surgery.)

I guess my question is this: Would you trade Bundy, straight-up, for any of the other starting pitchers in that impressive draft, given what you’ve seen this year? Age has to be a factor. I’d imagine injury history is too.

I’m not sure I would. Fulmer might be a yes, but I’m not convinced. Gray? Probably not, because he is three years older than Bundy and has had his own injury issues. The same for Cole, who just turned 27.

I’ll be interested to hear your opinions on this one.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Craig417

    September 11, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I would not trade Bundy. I just do not see any reason to trade a pitcher of his caliber when all the others that you mentioned have their own issues. The plus I see in him is his demeanor on and off the mound. Some attributes can not be measured in the various numbers that are thrown around. I like his focus and his calmness that he shows. At this point in time he is still on the fast track. This is only his first full season.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 11, 2017 at 10:26 am

      And, next to Fulmer, he is the youngest of the group.

  2. Fergy015

    September 11, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I would agree that Bundy is a keeper. Kevin Gausmann is a keeper also. The bad part is that we do not have a 3,4 or 5 starter. The contracts or trades that DD has made for starters have been for players that were mediocre at best and we were the only ones to jump at. DD and the Orioles have invested in Homers .

    • Craig417

      September 11, 2017 at 8:09 am

      Could not agree with you more. Finding and keeping good pitching is the way to go

    • Dan Connolly

      September 11, 2017 at 10:29 am

      I’m not sure the Orioles were “the only ones to jump at,” in trades. Given the lack of a pronounced minor league system, the players the Orioles had a chance of acquiring were second-tier (Norris, Miley, Hellickson, etc). Other teams would have taken them, too. It’s not as if they would have stopped pitching. They just weren’t the major upgrades needed.

  3. Osfan73

    September 11, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Given what I’ve seen this year….no, Id just keep Bundy. Seems as though the injuries are behind him now, hes durable, strong (is it me or does he look like he put on some weight this season, good weight, not CC Sabathia weight). And his numbers this year reflect how hard he works and has worked to recover and achieve this level of success…..a good sign going forward.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 11, 2017 at 10:32 am

      He works hard, has good stuff and has an acumen for pitching. If he stays healthy, and there’s no indication this year he can’t, he’s got a bright future.

  4. Orial

    September 11, 2017 at 8:51 am

    George Springer. Need I say anymore?

    • Craig417

      September 11, 2017 at 10:11 am

      If Springer could throw the ball over the plate and still play right field I would agree with you.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 11, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Didn’t know he pitched. But he does have a big arm.

  5. Creatively_19

    September 11, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Jose Fernandez would have been amazing. not going to lie I’d exchange for him in a heartbeat if he were still with us, RIP. Perhaps the more relaxed atmosphere of Baltimore would have reigned in his party-boy attitude.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 11, 2017 at 10:33 am

      A tremendous talent. So young. Real shame.

  6. Mikepete73

    September 11, 2017 at 10:08 am

    NO!!!

  7. Orial

    September 11, 2017 at 10:23 am

    So sorry. You meant pitcher. That’s what I get for not paying attention.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 11, 2017 at 10:36 am

      This isn’t Facebook, Orial. We actually read here before we comment. Seriously, no worries. Rendon and Lindor, among others, were also in that first round, that’s why I limited it to pitchers. And it was a solid group of pitchers. You could build a nice rotation from that first round.

  8. Paul Folkemer

    September 11, 2017 at 11:29 am

    If we want to take contract status into account, Bundy has more seasons remaining under team control than most of those other guys do, partly because all his years of injuries kept him from piling up service time. Bundy isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season, whereas Cole (2019), Gray (2019) and Bauer (2020) can be FAs earlier. Only Fulmer (2022) is under contract longer than Bundy.

    For that reason, I think Fulmer is the only guy I would consider trading Bundy for.

  9. Dpsmith22

    September 11, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    To not take Fullmer for Bundy would just be silly. I like Bundy alot and believe he has the ability to take his game to the next level. However, Fullmer is a ROY and has been pitching well this season and is already “established”.

    IF Fullmer were on this team over Bundy, they would be leading the AL East.

    • acd0

      September 11, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      We would have 11 more wins with Fulmer over Bundy? Maybe if we had Sale and Boston had Tillman pitching every fifth day that’s a possibility, but Bundy and Fulmer are way too close. And neither are particularly established.

      • Dpsmith22

        September 12, 2017 at 9:25 am

        Fuller has 2 years with a sub-4 era. I would call that established.

        I exaggerated a bit in my message. However, my point stands that Fullmer is far more established. His ability to allow VERY few homers is a big plus in today’s game.

  10. Strovel

    September 12, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Did anybody mention that Bundy is still a guy who missed almost three full seasons? The questions about his long-term durability still haven’t been answered. (As much as anybody can in the post-Tommy John world). I’m happy to have Bundy but I’d swap him for Bradley, who I think Arizona will move back into rotation in ’18.

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