Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski spoke on WIP's The Morning Show on Wednesday. He covered a slew of topics, such as Andrew Painter's Tommy John recovery, adding to the rotation prior to Opening Day, and extending the rotation's ace Zack Wheeler.
The Phillies would be wise to lock their ace up long-term prior to him becoming a free agent. As was the case with Aaron Nola, the price for Wheeler will only increase as more teams become involved in negotiations.
When asked how important it is to the team and when he expects a deal to happen, Dombrowski talked about his club's efforts in re-signing Wheeler before he becomes a free agent.
"Well, we would love to sign Zack today, if we could," Dombrowski said. "I think it's important that we re-sign him. He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. [I] really never get into negotiations publicly, but you can say it's important for us and we would love to get that done. I know Wheels loves it in Philadelphia, loves being part of the organization. I would say that it's a priority for us."
Re-signing Wheeler prior to Opening Day would add some excitement to an otherwise slow offseason for the club. It sounds as if he wants to be in Philadelphia, and the franchise wants him long-term, so a deal could be on the horizon.
Zack Wheeler has been impressive as a Phillie
Wheeler is entering the final year of a five-year, $118 million contract he signed after the 2019 season. Since signing that deal, the right-hander has been one of the best starting pitchers in Major League Baseball. The 2009 first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants has led all of baseball in fWAR (19.3) since the shortened 2020 season.
During that span, Wheeler has started 101 games for the Phillies and has logged 629 1/3 innings. He has posted a 3.06 ERA and a 2.90 FIP while averaging over a strikeout per inning. The ace has become a postseason wizard as well.
In 11 postseason appearances during the 2022 and 2023 playoffs, Wheeler was a stud. His 2.42 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and 69 strikeouts in 63 1/3 postseason innings are impressive. Should he remain in Philadelphia long-term, he could have a chance to improve those numbers even further.
The right-hander's track record as a member of the Phillies speaks for itself. He has been relatively healthy, as he has only hit the injured list three times during his stint in Philadelphia. His success on the field is backed up by his statistics. Having Wheeler and Nola lead the rotation until players like Painter and others are ready is a good starting point as this club reaches for the ultimate goal — a World Series championship.