The first major free agent pitching domino has fallen. According to reports, the Philadelphia Phillies have signed former New York Mets starter Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler’s reported deal is $118 million over five seasons. That’s a solid price tag, but apparently the 29-year-old right-hander could have gotten more.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX and The Athletic, the Chicago White Sox offered Wheeler more than Philadelphia did. However, Wheeler chose the opportunity to play closer to his wife’s native New Jersey over additional cash.
One has to wonder if Wheeler’s familiarity with the NL East given his time in New York also played a role. Not to mention, the Phillies should be closer to contending than the White Sox are, even though Chicago has made significant upgrades in recent seasons.
#WhiteSox’s offer to Wheeler was for MORE than the $118M he will receive from the #Phillies, sources tell The Athletic. As @MarcCarig said, Wheeler’s wife is from New Jersey, and that proximity was an important consideration in his decision.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
In 2019, Wheeler pitched for an 11-8 record and a 3.96 ERA in 31 games. He went 12-7 with a 3.31 ERA in 29 games in 2018.
Wheeler is off the board, but the two biggest prizes on the market, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, remain unsigned.
Rumors indicate Strasburg could wind up signing back with the Washington Nationals, while Cole seems to have the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels as primary choices.