Giants send struggling Bumgarner to Triple-A

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Sporting a 27-5 record and 1.65 ERA in the minors Madison Bumgarner ranked 14th on Baseball America‘s annual list of the game’s top prospects and began spring training as the favorite to claim the final spot in San Francisco’s rotation.
Unfortunately the 20-year-old southpaw showed up at Giants camp with his fastball topping out in the 80s, continuing a worrisome trend from late last season when his velocity dropped from mid-90s to low-90s.
Bumgarner appeared in three spring games, tossing seven innings with a 6.43 ERA, zero strikeouts, and seven walks, and this afternoon the Giants optioned him to Triple-A.
Obviously something isn’t right with Bumgarner physically, but setting that aside there’s certainly no harm in letting a 20-year-old spend some time at Triple-A before handing him a rotation spot. In this case the move not only gives Bumgarner some additional minor-league seasoning and likely allows the Giants to eventually push his free agency back another year, it lets him try to work out the kinks in a low-pressure environment.
Now that Bumgarner is out of the picture, for a bit at least, Todd Wellemeyer is likely to begin the season as the Giants’ fifth starter. Wellemeyer is almost a dozen years Bumgarner’s senior and has 191 more games of big-league experience, but he’s also a question mark after an injury wrecked 2009. However, he’s looked healthy this spring and went 13-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for the Cardinals in 2008.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.