1 extension the Phillies should pursue and 2 they should avoid (for now)

With extensions a hot topic at spring training, who should the Phillies extend and who should they hold off on?

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five / Harry How/GettyImages
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The Phillies should extend Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler continues to demonstrate why he is the Phillies top starter since he signed with the team before the 2020 season. The veteran pitcher is entering the final year of his contract. Dombrowski has expressed his interest in keeping him with the team beyond 2024.

Wheeler is coming off a season that culminated in him winning the first Gold Glove Award of his career. Durability was a concern earlier in his career with the New York Mets but he has remained relatively healthy in his four previous seasons with Philadelphia.

The starter will be 34 at the end of May but continues to perform at a top level. One of the current stories in spring training is the Phillies and Wheeler working on an extension before the next offseason.

Wheeler has started 101 games for the Phillies over the previous four seasons, two of which he has finished with over 200 strikeouts. Philadelphia would have a big loss to fill in their rotation in the short term if he does not re-sign with the team.

On Feb. 14, the first spring training workout for pitchers and catchers, Wheeler responded to questions regarding a potential extension.

"[I] haven't heard much... [my agent and the front office] are chatting... I'm just trying to concentrate on what we're doing right now and getting ready for the season. I think it could happen anytime. I want to be paid [based] on how I've done, what they expect out of me, that type of stuff... it's not all about the money to me either... I took less to come here [to] be in a good spot, to be happy, to have my family be happy... it's a good organization, I'd love to be here."

If they can agree on an extension of a maximum of four years, that should be good enough since he will be 38 once it expires if he agrees to a four-year deal, for example. The Phillies have to be wary of not securing too many long-term deals with players who will be in their late 30s once the contracts expire. There needs to be a balance of signing some veterans while trying to develop young players as well.

The hope is that in 2025, top prospect Andrew Painter will show his promise and be promoted to the big league club sooner rather than later. He seems to have the potential to be a top-two starter in the Phillies rotation. However, in the short term, with the Phillies a contender to win the World Series, they need as many experienced players, like Wheeler, to win a championship over the next two seasons.

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