There was not a ton to be excited about if you were a Mets fan in 2018, but one thing that went really well was the emergence of Zack Wheeler.
After three seasons in which injuries and ineffectiveness made many people forget how good a prospect he was once upon a time, Wheeler really put it together in 2018, going 12-7 with a 3.31 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and 8.8 K/9 across 29 starts. He was particularly effective in the second half, going 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts, while greatly reducing his walk rate. Just solid all around.
Today Mets manager Mickey Callaway confirmed that Wheeler’s Monday start was his last one and that he has been shut down for the season. It’s a workload-based decision, not a health decision. Wheeler has pitched 187.1 innings this season between the minors and majors, which is more than twice the number of innings he pitched in his previous three years combined. No sense risking his offseason routine. All kinds of sense in ending things on a high note.
Wheeler will be eligible for salary arbitration for the final time this winter. He will also, along with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, form the basis of what a lot of people might reasonably suspect is a rotation that can anchor a contender in 2019. Yes, people say that sort of thing about the Mets often and they so rarely come though, but hope is a hard thing to kill. Especially when you have a 1-2-3- punch with Wheeler as the “worst” of the bunch.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.