Phillies rumors: Club willing to trade RHP Zack Wheeler
By Matt Rappa
The Phillies are reportedly fielding trade offers for RHP Zack Wheeler.
Amid their “financial crunch,” the Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly told other teams that they are willing to trade right-handed starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
UPDATE: The Phillies have denied ESPN’s report that they are open to trade offers for Wheeler.
Wheeler is the team’s second-highest paid player and is owed at least $22.5 million through the 2024 season; he signed a five-year, $118 million contract last offseason after a five-season stint with the New York Mets to begin his career.
“Slugger Bryce Harper is the team’s highest-paid player, but there is no indication yet that the Phillies will look to deal him off their books,” Olney writes.
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.
Olney noted that it is unclear whether the Phils will allocate any of their potential salary savings from a Wheeler trade toward re-signing J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies are also reportedly fielding trade offers for Jean Segura.
“No matter what happens, there will be gaping holes in the roster,” Olney writes. “With a lot of the best starting pitchers already off the board, there undoubtedly will be interest in Wheeler — but it may be that other clubs could ask the Phillies to kick in some money to offset a deal that was signed before the pandemic, or be measured in prospect offers.”
The Phils have already lost right-hander Jake Arrieta to free agency; as is, they have two spots to fill in the starting rotation. If Wheeler is dealt, only Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin would remain as starting pitching locks for the 2021 season.
Time will tell if, when, and where Wheeler is traded.