Phillies’ John Middleton: ‘Zero truth’ to Zack Wheeler rumor

Owner John Middleton of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Owner John Middleton of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Phillies brass says there is ‘zero truth’ to any Zack Wheeler trade rumors.

The Philadelphia Phillies have denied ESPN’s Buster Olney’s report that due to a “financial crunch,” the team would be looking to trade right-handed starting pitcher Zack Wheeler.

Managing Partner John Middleton told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury Sunday afternoon that there is “zero truth” to the rumor. Team president Andy MacPhail was also quick to shoot down any speculation, adding that the report has “no validity.”

“Zack is very much in our plans going forward,” MacPhail added to Salisbury. “I’m not surprised that other clubs might inquire about him. It’s not something on our radar.”

Trading Wheeler out of a starting rotation that is anything but figured out would surely be a questionable move made by the Phillies, but there appears to be no truth to such rumor. With Jake Arrieta entering free agency and unlikely to re-sign due to poor performance over his previous multi-year deal in red pinstripes, only Aaron Nola, Wheeler, and Zach Eflin are currently locks to be featured in the 2021 rotation.

After that, the Phillies could turn to several options to fill out the latter-half of the rotation. Wheeler not being in the picture, due to a trade, would only be an uphill battle for them. But, again, that will not be the case.

The 30-year-old Wheeler was arguably the best pitcher on an overwhelmingly underperforming Phillies staff under then-pitching coach Bryan Price in 2020. Wheeler had gone undefeated through his first nine starts, going 4-0 with a 2.62 ERA, .255/.300/.361 opposing slash line, and a 38-to-9 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 58 1/3 innings.

The Georgia native struggled going 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA over his final two starts, both on the road, but that came around the time of his freak fingernail injury.

While the Phillies denied any Wheeler trade speculation, the previously reported Jean Segura trade rumors were not commented on.

It will be good to see how Wheeler performs in his second season in red pinstripes, hopefully in front of fans.

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