Zack Wheeler and the Philadelphia Phillies have, reportedly, agreed to a five-year contract, worth $118 million, according to multiple sources. Wheeler, who turned down a Qualifying Offer from the Mets earlier this off-season, had been a Met since 2011.
Acquired for Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline in 2011, Wheeler made his debut, alongside fellow Met farmhand turned star Matt Harvey, on ‘Super Tuesday,’ a double headed in Wheeler’s native Georgia against the Atlanta Braves on June 18, 2013.
Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2015 and suffered through an incredibly slow rehab process, not throwing another pitch in the Major Leagues until April of 2017, missing both Mets’ playoff appearances during his tenure on the club.
Wheeler had the best stretch of his career in the second half of 2018, where he looked every bit the dominant starter that the Mets’ and their fans had always hoped he would blossom into. His 2019 was more up and down, but he still put up a respectable 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts to only 50 walks.
Over his Mets career, Wheeler put up 9.7 bWAR, and a 44-38 record. While his potential was never doubted, Wheeler struggled to keep pace with some of the, admittedly elite, starting pitchers he shared the rotation with. His propensity to throw a lot of pitches and induce a maddening number of foul balls led to his inability to pitch deep into too many games.
The Phillies made big splashes last off season, bringing in Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and more. However, the team faltered down the stretch, finishing fourth in the division behind the Braves, Nationals, and Mets with an 81-81 record.
Wheeler will join Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez in the Phillies starting rotation. Sources cite Wheeler’s wife being from New Jersey as being a part of the decision for Wheeler to stay on the East Coast. He was reportedly offered more money by the Chicago White Sox, but wanted to stay close to his wife’s home.
Though the Mets did not formally make Wheeler an offer, Wheeler’s representation went back to the Mets before accepting the deal from Philadelphia.
While Wheeler was, at various times, exciting and frustrating to watch on the mound, we wish him well on the next stop on his journey. Well, at least 143 games a year.