TODAY, 1:58pm: The Cardinals could also have interest in Bumgarner, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand writes.
WEDNESDAY, 7:52pm: The Reds are indeed among the teams with ongoing interest in Bumgarner, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Cincinnati has been aggressive thus far and has also been linked to free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna, further backing reports that they’re willing to sign players who rejected a qualifying offer.
5:35pm: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale suggests otherwise regarding the White Sox, writing that they’ve been zeroed in on Wheeler and have yet to even enter into negotiations with Bumgarner’s camp.
2:45pm: Zack Wheeler is off the board on a reported five-year, $118MM agreement with the Phillies, and it sounds like a decision from fellow free agent Madison Bumgarner might not be far behind. Even before word of Wheeler’s agreement broke, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweeted that some within the industry also expect Bumgarner to sign before the Winter Meetings begin next week.
At this point, the Twins and White Sox are among the “heaviest” suitors for the longtime Giants lefty, tweets Andy Martino of SNY, who adds that the Yankees are involved “to some degree.” Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that even after the Braves signed Cole Hamels to a one-year, $18MM deal earlier today, they’re still not completely out of the Bumgarner bidding. And ESPN’s Buster Olney somewhat speculatively links the Reds, who also pursued but missed out on Wheeler, to the Bumgarner market as well (Twitter link). Other clubs are surely involved as well.
It seems unlikely that the bidding for Bumgarner will escalate to the same heights as the Wheeler market, although USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted earlier that the Braves jumped on Hamels in part due to concerns that Bumgarner’s price could approach $100MM.
Regardless of where he lands, there’s little doubt that Bumgarner is among the best arms on the market this winter. He’s not the clear-cut ace that he was earlier in his career when he was busy establishing himself as a postseason legend, but the 30-year-old Bumgarner still posted a 3.90 ERA and a matching FIP through 207 2/3 innings this past season. His average fastball velocity (91.4 mph) and strikeout rate (8.8 K/9, 24.1 percent) are both down a bit from peak levels, but Bumgarner still displayed impeccable command (1.9 BB/9) this past season and topped 30 starts for the first time since his injuring his shoulder in 2017’s dirt-bike debacle.
Bumgarner has made 55 starts across the past two seasons, pitching to a 3.66 ERA (110 ERA+, 3.94 FIP) while averaging 8.3 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings pitched. He rejected a qualifying offer from the Giants, meaning he’ll require some draft and possibly international bonus forfeitures (with exact compensation dependent on which team ultimately signs him). At this point, there’s little indication that the incumbent Giants are a serious player for Bumgarner, but they’re in position to recoup a compensatory pick between Competitive Balance Round B and Round 3 of next year’s draft (as they did when Will Smith signed with the Braves).