The Phillies have reportedly signed right-handed starting pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year deal worth more than $100 million.
Two National League East teams added a starting pitcher on Wednesday: the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
While the Braves brought back 2008 World Series Most Valuable Player Cole Hamels to the National League East on a one-year, $18 million deal, the Phillies have reportedly signed a longtime New York Mets starting pitcher to remain in the division: RHP Zack Wheeler, according to The Athletic’s Marc Craig.
Wheeler’s deal with the Phillies is for five years and $118 million, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports, adding he turned down a deal from the Chicago White Sox that was worth more and that “Wheeler’s wife is from New Jersey, and that proximity was an important consideration in his decision.”
Since the Mets offered Wheeler a $17.8 million qualifying offer for 2020, the Phillies have forfeited their second pick in next year’s amateur draft by signing him.
Wheeler is just the third pitcher the Phillies have ever given at least $100 million, joining Hamels ($144 million extension) and fellow southpaw Cliff Lee ($120 million free-agent contract); only Bryce Harper ($330 million) and Lee have ever been awarded a larger free-agent contract in Phillies history.
Wheeler now complements right-handers Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Eflin in the Phillies starting rotation. The club could still look to add more starting pitching talent this offseason.
The Phillies had not been rumored to have significant interest in Wheeler until early Wednesday morning, when ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the organization was one of two to be “heavily involved” in bidding for his services, joining the Cincinnati Reds.
Wheeler, 29, is a five-year veteran and former sixth overall draft pick; he has a career 3.77 ERA through 126 starts, all of which came with the division-rival New York Mets. This past season among National League pitchers, Wheeler logged the ninth-most innings pitched (195 1/3), but yielded the second-most hits (196) and ninth-most earned runs (86) while facing the sixth-most batters (828).
Wheeler has started in more than 18 games just three times in his career: 2014 (32), 2018 (29) and 2019 (31). He missed all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to Tommy John surgery and a mild flexor strain in his right arm.
On November 25, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported that it is believed that at least one of Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, or Zack Wheeler will have agreed to sign with the Phillies and don red pinstripes next season by New Year’s Day.
Wheeler seemed to be the least likely of the three to sign with the Phillies at the time, but regardless the report turns out to be true, with a few weeks to spare.