When ESPN’s Buster Olney made waves on Sunday morning with his article that claimed multiple league executives around MLB told him the Phillies were quietly shopping co-ace starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, the internet went nuts.
Or, at least, our little corner of it.
In response, owner John Middleton angrily telephoned Olney to make it clear the Phils would not trade Wheeler for even the greatest baseball players who ever lived, which was certainly not an overstatement in any way, shape or form. After all, if someone offered you Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds or Ted Williams in their prime for Wheeler, of course you’re going to turn it down.
Obviously, the Phillies are all over the place right now and, perhaps the worst thing to come out of the Olney/ESPN rumor on Sunday was the realization that everyone immediately thought it was true. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Phils were hot to deal him, but the implication in Olney’s piece was clear — the Phillies are desperate to save money and are looking to clear payroll, even if it’s one of their most important players.
We all believed it because the Phils have gone out of their way to tell us how much money they’ve lost, made it clear they’re pessimistic about re-signing J.T. Realmuto, and laid off 80 full-time employees during Thanksgiving week. So yeah, it didn’t sound crazy.
On the latest episode of Hittin’ Season, Justin Klugh, Liz Roscher and I talked in depth about the damage done by the Phillies’ repeated public relations disasters this autumn and, specifically, the Wheeler trade rumors, why Middleton’s denial rang hollow, and what it could mean for their sluggish pursuit of a new president of baseball operations/general manager.
Also, do you have something to say about the Phillies and need to get it off your chest? Then call the Hittin’ Season Hotline and, in the spirit of Festivus, air your grievances! Call (610) 628-2115 and leave a voicemail to share your feelings about the Phils.
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