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.
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…