A new report suggests that longtime San Francisco Giants star pitcher Madison Bumgarner's value in free agency is now soaring, following a number of recent deals as well as rumors suggesting the Giants might not have any plans of retaining him in the offseason.
In a story published Wednesday on USA Today, Bob Nightengale cited two unnamed executives who believe the 30-year-old left-hander's value has been "soaring" since the Philadelphia Phillies signed Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract and the Atlanta Braves inked Cole Hamels to a one-year, $18 million deal. With both the Phillies and Braves adding these pitchers to their rosters, "MadBum" is now thought by many to be the third-best free-agent hurler behind Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole, which could point to a lucrative contract once he gets signed.
"I wouldn't even be surprised if he gets more than Wheeler,'' an anonymous National League official was quoted as saying. "It will be close. There's really not that big of a difference when you look at it closely.''
According to Nightengale, the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, and Minnesota Twins -- four teams that "lost out" in their bids to acquire Wheeler -- are expected to be the favorites to acquire Bumgarner's services, with the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, and Toronto Blue Jays also figuring in as possible suitors. Conspicuously absent, however, were the Giants -- the team that picked Bumgarner in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft and the only organization the lefty has played for since entering the majors in 2009, per Baseball-Reference.
"[Bumgarner's] preference is to stay, but the Giants have shown no inclination to keep him," Nightengale wrote. "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."
After missing parts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to injuries, Bumgarner had a strong 2019 campaign for the Giants, finishing the year with a 9-9 record, a 3.90 ERA, and 203 strikeouts in 207 2/3 innings. In 11 seasons in the majors, he has played in four All-Star Games and won three championships in San Francisco, also winning World Series MVP honors in 2014.
Apart from the aforementioned teams, the San Diego Padres have also been rumored to be in the running for Bumgarner, as previously noted by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Padres, however, have more notably been linked to San Diego native Strasburg, who was this year's World Series MVP while playing for the Nationals.