Zack Wheeler's record-breaking extension props open Phillies' World Series window

With Wheeler's services secured, the stage is set for the Phillies to contend for the World Series for the foreseeable future.

Zack Wheeler's extension signals the Philadelphia Phillies' World Series window
Zack Wheeler's extension signals the Philadelphia Phillies' World Series window / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Finally. After a winter of rumors and hints of an extension, the Philadelphia Phillies opened the wallet and paid Zack Wheeler. The staff ace has agreed to a three-year, $126 million deal that will see him continue plying his trade for the Phillies through the 2027 season. The contract doesn't include any options or opt-outs.

At $42 million AAV, the deal is the highest annual average value for an extension in MLB history, and it's not like Wheeler doesn't deserve it. The 33-year-old led all pitchers with a 5.9 fWAR last season and has the highest fWAR at 19.3 among pitchers since joining the Phillies in 2020.

The move comes three and half months after the team inked career Phillie Aaron Nola to a seven-year deal and sets up the top of the rotation for the foreseeable future. It also signals the front office's belief in the core it has assembled over the last few years. With a stable of veteran, star players, the Phillies are set to be World Series contenders for another handful of seasons.

Manager Rob Thomson also received a vote of confidence with an extension this offseason, a deal announced at the MLB Winter Meetings. Topper will be leading the team for at least the next two seasons, which gives the front office some wiggle room to make a change if things don't work out as planned after a couple more kicks at the can. Although, as we know, even with a contract, MLB managers are easily replaced when on-field results don't meet expectations.

Earlier in spring training, owner John Middleton made sure the players know what's at stake and the expectations. He gave an expletive-laced speech imploring the players to bring the World Series trophy back to Philadelphia and said he wants to build a dynasty.

How the Phillies will look at the end of Wheeler's contract

The Wheeler extension shows that the team is willing to pay to win, and the window is now propped open at least into the 2027 season. After that season, the current core of Phillies' stars will look a lot different. Here are the veteran members of the Phillies core who are signed through the 2027 season and how old they'll be heading into that campaign:

Bryce Harper - 34 years old
Trea Turner - 33 years old
Aaron Nola - 33 years old
Zack Wheeler - 36 years old

Nick Castellanos will be 34 heading into his final contract year in 2026. J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber are both signed through the 2025 season. Realmuto will be 34, and Schwarber will be 32 at that time.

This current group has two years to get it done.

Next. Wheeler extension grade. Phillies' Zack Wheeler contract extension grade. dark

They'll still have Harper, Turner, Nola and Wheeler after that, but the other pieces will change, and the window might close a little. How long the window stays open after that will depend on how well the next crop of prospects perform when they get to the big leagues. Andrew Painter, Mick Abel, Aidan Miller, and Justin Crawford will have a lot of say in the next version of the Phillies.

However the team changes around him, let's hope Wheeler's final years in a Phillies uniform are marked by more World Series appearances and at least one championship.