This morning Ken Rosenthal was on MLB Network talking about the Cincinnati Reds and Mike Moustakas. He also mentioned that the team was still active in pursuing free agent right-handed starting pitcher Zack Wheeler.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 3, 2019
Here at Redleg Nation we’ve talked about their interest in Zack Wheeler before, and we looked at how much sense he would make for the team this offseason, too. As it is with most deals in free agency, the contract is going to be the sticking point as to whether or not it makes sense to sign a player.
While Rosenthal was talking about the Reds interest in Wheeler this morning, over at The Athletic, he was talking about the kind of interest the now former New York Mets starter was generating on the market as a whole. And it’s a lot.
According to Rosenthal, Zack Wheeler has at least one offer on the table for $100M and five years. That’s the exact prediction from MLB Trade Rumors on what it would take to sign him. Cincinnati isn’t the only team on the list that seems to still be interested in bringing Wheeler in.
The White Sox, Twins, Reds, Rangers and Blue Jays are among the clubs pursuing Wheeler, who is the leading free-agent alternative to fellow right-handers Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg
The Reds already went out and got the pitching, so to speak. Bringing in Sonny Gray, trading for Trevor Bauer, and perhaps just as important, bringing in pitching coach Derek Johnson – the Cincinnati pitching staff went from one of the worst in the game to one of the best in just one season. But adding in Zack Wheeler would take it to another level.
The Reds have long coveted Zack Wheeler. There have been rumors about the team trying to acquire him for about four years now – even while he was injured and missing several seasons. The 29-year-old is coming off of a 2019 season where he posted a 3.96 ERA in 195.1 innings with 50 walks and 195 strikeouts. The season before he made 29 starts with a 3.31 ERA and 182.1 innings with 55 walks and 179 strikeouts. His peripherals are strong – he doesn’t walk many hitters and he misses bats at a good rate. And in an age when everyone hits homers – he keeps the ball in the park.
But there’s always the question of health with any pitcher. And with Zack Wheeler it’s an even bigger question. He’s been healthy over the last two seasons. But from 2015-2017 he threw a grand total of 87.1 innings as he dealt with several different injuries. Teams are weighing that risk along with his upside – which it appears many teams feel is quite high – and making nine-figure offers.
Jon Heyman just reported that a deal could be reached before the Winter Meetings. Those start on Sunday in San Diego and go through Thursday the 12th. It’s possible that we won’t be waiting much longer to find out where Wheeler lands.