The Phillies have made their first major move. On the heels of former Phillies ace Cole Hamels signing with the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies have made a pitching move of their own. It was the one rumored earlier in the day.
According to Marc Carig of the Athletic, the Phillies have agreed to terms with free agent pitcher Zack Wheeler:
The Phillies have reached an agreement with Zack Wheeler, sources tell @TheAthletic. The ex-Met stays in the NL East, and close to New Jersey, where Wheeler’s wife is from.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 4, 2019
The deal was expected to be north of $100 million according to earlier reports.
Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that the deal will be for five years:
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
The Phillies are just getting started in their offseason plans; the team was expected to land at least two starting pitchers this offseason. With Wheeler in the fold, the Phillies might look to add a left-handed pitcher. Both Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel are free agent options.
The Phillies were interested in Wheeler at the 2018 trade deadline. At the time, Wheeler was coming off injury and showing signs of a rebound. Since then he has been stellar. Wheeler gave the Mets 195 1/3 innings last season after 182 in 2018. The Phillies need such reliability in their rotation.
While Wheeler had his injury woes in the past - he missed all of 2015 and 2016 with "Tommy John" surgery, and part of 2017 with elbow tendonitis – he appears to be in good health. Wheeler had a very short injured list stint in 2019 with "shoulder fatigue". The time missed has limited the stress on his arm.
Wheeler turns 30 next season. Lifetime he is 44-38 with a 3.77 earned run average.