The Phillies needed starting pitching, you say?
It has to be something better than average, you opine?
Don’t want to eat up too much money before scraping the luxury tax, you demand?
Well guess what? The Phillies just signed someone that fulfills all three of these desires, signing arguably the best non-elite pitcher on the market in Zack Wheeler.
Right-hander Zack Wheeler and the Philadelphia Phillies are in agreement on a five-year deal worth more than $100 million, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019
Confirming @MarcCarig Phillies get Zack Wheeler. Five years just under 120mill— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) December 4, 2019
Are the terms causing you to pucker your lips a bit? Well, let me ask this question in retort: would you rather they lose out on all four of Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Wheeler? No? Then paying this kind of contract was a must if the team wanted to improve the starting rotation.
All throughout the morning, we’ve seen opinions about Wheeler not being an elite pitcher, how he’s injury prone, how he’s not as good as people believe he is and therefore not worth sinking this much money and this many years. All fair points. However, were you aware that over the past two years, Wheeler has made 60 starts, thrown 377 2⁄3 innings of 3.65 ERA (3.37 FIP) ball? That injury prone tag is no longer applicable.
If the Phillies wanted pitching, they knew they had to spend. Rather than wait out the Cole/Strasburg markets and hope to strike gold there, they moved on to grab something and secure an upgrade right now. While this doesn’t take them out of the market for those two aces, it’ll make it a little more difficult if they still want to stay under the luxury tax.
For now, let’s be happy the team has a solid #2 pitcher to go behind Aaron Nola. There’s still time to grab more stuff from the free agent market, but this is a solid step in the right direction.
UPDATE: Final terms are out.
Wheeler gets five years and $118 million.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019