Phillies extend Zack Wheeler and rid themselves of potential 2024 headache

The Phillies and Zack Wheeler have agreed to a three-year, $126 million deal contract extension, securing his services through 2027 and avoiding free agency next winter.
Philadelphia Phillies extend their ace Zack Wheeler
Philadelphia Phillies extend their ace Zack Wheeler / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies have extended Zack Wheeler, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, locking up the ace of their staff and one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Per The Athletic's Matt Gelb, the deal is for three years and $126 million (subscription required) and will see Wheeler remain in a Phillies uniform through the 2027 season.

The hard-throwing right-hander was entering the 2024 season on the last year of this five-year, $118 million deal that he signed with the Phillies the last time he was a free agent. The Phillies organization, from the ownership group down to the players, did not want to see their bonafide star reach free agency again and finally settled on a deal that will keep him in Philadelphia beyond 2024.

Wheeler, the 33-year-old, has been the most consistent arm in all of Major League Baseball for the last 3+ years. According to FanGraphs, Wheeler leads all pitchers in MLB with a 17.3 fWAR from 2021 through 2023. The next closest pitcher is a full 1.5 fWAR away, registering a fWAR of 15.8.

Wheeler’s playoff resume over the last two seasons is another major reason the Phillies value him so highly. Over 63 1/3 innings between 10 starts and one relief appearance, the Phillies ace registered a 2.42 ERA and a 0.72 WHIP. These numbers put him in the upper echelon of big-game pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball.

There has been a lot of talk this offseason about how the Phillies aggressively persued Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who ended up signing with the Dodgers, but have stayed away from the other high-profile starting pitchers. They opted to go with what they know and the consistency that Wheeler brings to the franchise.

The Phillies and Wheeler's camp had been talking through spring training

Both Wheeler and Dave Dombrowski have publicly stated that there was a mutual desire to keep the pitcher in the red pinstripes, with Dombrowski giving an update earlier in training camp.

“Zack would not mislead you. Of course, we’ve talked,” Dombrowski told the Associated Press. “It is a priority. We would love to get that deal done.”

Wheeler also confirmed that he and the team were in extension talks as spring training got underway, saying that he loves Philly and hoped to get something done.

At $42 million AAV, Wheeler will be the highest-paid Phillies player starting in 2025, ahead of Trea Turner, who will make just over $27 million in base salary, and Bryce Harper, who will make $26 million in base salary. This will also make Wheeler the fourth highest-paid starting pitcher, including Shohei Ohtani ($70 million), behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander ($43.3 million).

The Phillies have high expectations for 2024 and beyond, and locking up Wheeler for their championship window was vital. It’s good to see that both camps were able to get a deal done ahead of the season and put any worries to rest.