When free agency began this Fall, Zach Wheeler had no shortage of suitors. The one-time New York Mets pitcher reportedly had interest from the Chicago White Sox, who may have offered him the most money, the New York Yankees, and others. But after Wheeler mentioned the Mets did not pursue him, the Mets general manager took some shots at Wheeler.
The fight began yesterday, when Wheeler was interviewed by the New York Post about his free agency. Wheeler disclosed that he circled back to the Mets before signing with the Phillies. Wheeler expressed his disappointment that the Mets did not pay attention: "It was just crickets when I did", Wheeler told the Post.
Then Wheeler expressed what seemed to be some sort of disarray in the New York Mets organization:
“Obviously everything starts at the top and it filters down,” Wheeler said. “Whether it be somebody’s fault or not, it starts at the top and goes down. Maybe the top gives them the OK but lower down they don’t want to do something. Or maybe up top, they don’t give you the opportunity to do something but everybody else wants to do it. That’s kind of how it was there at certain points. Everything was kind of jumpy because certain people would want something, others wouldn’t. I don’t think everyone was on the same page.”
The Post quoted Mets general manager Brody Van Wagenen as saying at the time of the signing that Wheeler did not match up with their values for their long-time pitcher:
“The projections we had for Zack — both short-term and long-term — didn’t quite match up to the market he was able to enjoy."
But Van Wagenen's comments seemed much more harsh on Friday in reaction to Wheeler's comments earlier:
Brodie Van Wagenen said he was “surprised” and “disappointed” with Zack Wheeler’s comments yesterday, after the Mets “helped him parlay two good half-seasons over the last five into $118 million.”— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) February 14, 2020
The comments seemed to belittle Wheeler's play on the field.
Wheeler regularly struggled with injury during his time with the Mets. From mid-2018 through the 2019 season, Wheeler indeed pitched particularly well for the Mets in 2019; he put forth a 4.1 WAR season in 31 starts for the Mets. Hardly a "half season"'s work there.
The comments should certainly enrich the upcoming contests between the Phillies and the New York Mets; the two teams are set to play each other 19 times in 2020 as other seasons. The Mets will certainly miss Wheeler; they are hoping that either Rick Porcello or Michael Wacha will rebound and claim a spot in the Mets starting rotation.