© Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY SportsBumgarner won three World Series titles with the Giants.
The free-agent pitching market broke wide open Wednesday, but the biggest winner of the day might be Madison Bumgarner.
With the Philadelphia Phillies signing Zack Wheeler for $118 million and the Atlanta Braves landing Cole Hamels on a one-year, $18 million deal, those two teams are now out of the market now for Bumgarner, according to two executives familiar with the clubs' thinking.
The executives spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the market.
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Yet, two club officials told USA TODAY Sports that Bumgarner's value is soaring in the aftermath of the deals, and expect him to command at least $100 million in free agency. He's widely considered the third-best remaining free-agent starter behind Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.
"I wouldn't even be surprised if he gets more than Wheeler,'' one NL official said. "It will be close. There's really not that big of a difference when you look at it closely.''
Bumgarner, 30, is a year older, and while he may not have the same upside as Wheeler, the former Met doesn't have Bumgarner's resume. Wheeler has made more than 30 starts just once, has never thrown 200 innings and missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons following Tommy John surgery.
Bumgarner is a World Series hero, leading the San Francisco Giants to three titles, and is a four-time All-Star with three top-six Cy Young finishes. He has eclipsed 200 innings seven times in his career, including 2019, when he went 9-9 with a 3.90 ERA with 207 ? innings. The only two years he failed to pitch 200 innings were 2017 and 2018, both seasons cut short by freak injuries.
Most importantly to suitors, Bumgarner is pitching the best he has in three years. In 2019, he posted his highest strikeout percentage since 2016 and his lowest walk percentage since 2015.
It's unknown exactly who will be bidding on Bumgarner, but the teams that lost out in the Wheeler sweepstakes would be the logical candidates. The Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros all pursued Wheeler. The Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers also could be in the mix.
The White Sox actually had the highest offer for Wheeler at about $125 million, two officials with direct knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports but Chicago has not yet entered into negotiations with Bumgarner.
Bumgarner has pitched his entire career with the Giants, and his preference is to stay, but the Giants have shown no inclination to keep him. They're in a full rebuild, and declined to tender Kevin Pillar, their most valuable player last season, to avoid paying him about $10 million in salary arbitration.
There are no clear-cut favorites for Bumgarner, but no matter where he lands, the man is going to be paid.
Perhaps a whole lot more than anyone ever envisioned.
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: As free agency dominoes fall, Madison Bumgarner is expected to fetch at least $100 million