Stark: Phillies ‘more committed to re-signing Zack Wheeler than they were Aaron Nola’

NEW DEAL SIGNED: Philies are more committed to signing…..

Zack Wheeler can become a free agent after the 2024 season. (Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)
The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t been shy about their desire to retain RHP Zack Wheeler beyond the end of his current contract in 2024, to the point that one insider believes a new deal will be reached at some point this offseason.

Appearing on 97.5 The Fanatic Thursday evening, Hall of Famer Jayson Stark had some pretty telling insight on Wheeler’s future with the Phillies.

“Re-signing Wheeler will be the No. 1 priority for the Phillies once the rest of the MLB offseason rubble clears,” Stark said. “They are more committed to re-signing Wheeler than they were [Aaron] Nola. I think it gets done because Wheeler loves everything about Philly.”

Wheeler has vastly outperformed the five-year/$118 million deal he signed with the Phillies prior to the 2020 season. Since joining the Phillies, Wheeler is 43-25 with a 3.06 ERA and 2.90 FIP. Over that period, his 629 1/3 innings pitched are fourth among all starting pitchers. His 19.3 WAR over the last four seasons leads all pitchers, according to FanGraphs.

In addition to his regular season success, Wheeler has been dominant over two postseason runs with the Phillies. Across his first 11 career postseason appearances, Wheeler has a 2.42 ERA.

In his year-end press conference, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski didn’t mince words when asked by Phillies Nation if the team hopes to work out an extension with Wheeler this offseason.

“Without getting into anything — because just we haven’t had these type of things [conversations] — we would hope to have Zack Wheeler in our organization for years to come,” Dombrowski said.

“He’s been tremendous since he’s been here, and we look at him as a real stalwart of our organization,” Dombrowski continued. “So we would hope that he would be here for a long time.”

While the Phillies did try to work out a long-term contract with Nola last spring and eventually brought him back on a seven-year/$172 million deal in free agency, there does seem to be a more definitive tone when Wheeler is being discussed. With Nola, it really felt like a 50-50 chance he would depart the Phillies after the 2023 season. Perhaps it’s reading too much into one quote, but the deepest-pocketed teams in the sport don’t often let someone they view as a “stalwart” leave in free agency.

Aaron Nola is back, but believes Zack Wheeler should start on Opening Day 2024

That doesn’t mean that the Phillies and Wheeler will reach an extension before the 2024 season, but that certainly seems to be the hope of the organization. While no formal offer had been put forward at the time of the note,‘s Todd Zolecki reported in late November that the Phillies had indeed discussed a new contract with Wheeler’s camp. Zolecki added that “one is expected at some point” in regards to a formal offer from the Phillies to Wheeler, who is represented by Al Goetz at Jets Sports Management.

From Wheeler’s perspective, there are pros and cons to potentially signing a new contract before the 2024 season.

10 greatest Phillies players of all time, ranked

On one hand, you tend to get more money when you establish your value on the open market. If Wheeler continues to produce like he has over his first four seasons in Philadelphia, he would be coveted on the free-agent market next offseason. A deal as large or even bigger than the three-year/$130 million deal that the New York Mets gave Max Scherzer in free agency prior to the 2022 season would probably be realistic if he reaches the open market. Wheeler may be leaving money on the table if he re-signs with the Phillies before testing free agency.

On the other hand, Wheeler will turn 34 in May, has logged over 1,300 innings in his career and is a veteran of Tommy John surgery. Yes, he’s outperformed his current contract. But he’ll still surpass $100 million in career earnings in 2024. He’s made a ton of money, and if he’s offered a lucrative contract extension by the Phillies, there’s an argument that he should take that certainty with the possibility always existing that he’ll hit a wall and/or get injured this upcoming season.

It will be interesting to see how Wheeler’s future plays out, but the two sides seemingly each have reason to continue their relationship together.

The Phillies have made deep playoff runs in each of the past two seasons, and Wheeler has achieved the elite potential in Philadelphia that he often flashed during five seasons with the New York Mets.

Wheeler’s wife, Dominique, is from New Jersey and proximity to there appeared to play a part in his decision to sign with the Phillies after the 2019 season. The couple has since had two kids, and announced during the 2023 postseason run that they are expecting a third child. One would think that’s only strengthened their desire to remain close to family

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *