Zack Wheeler has signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on a five-year deal worth $118 million.
Wheeler was one of the most highly sought-after free agent pitchers on the market this offseason, coming in after Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg in terms of quality but stood to be more affordable than either of those guys are perceived to be. As for that quality: Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks across 195.1 innings for the Mets this past season after a 12-7, 3.31 ERA season in 2018. Due to various injuries he missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons and part of the 2017 season, meaning that he has way less mileage on his arm than his 29 years would suggest.
Wheeler leaves the Mets for the division rival Phillies, where he’ll bolster a rotation headed up by Aaron Nola but which turned in an overall disappointing performance last year. He certainly improves them.
Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic report that Rays starter Blake Snell has switched agencies, going from Apex Baseball to Boras Corporation. Snell is currently signed to a five-year, $50 million contract and will be under contract through 2023.
Snell found himself in hot water two weeks ago when he said on his Twitch stream that he wouldn’t risk his life to play baseball during a pandemic while receiving significantly reduced pay. Some described Snell as tone deaf for saying, “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, okay?”
Boras represents many of baseball’s highest-paid players, including Gerrit Cole and Bryce Harper. Snell is not likely to win over any of the people he recently irritated by appearing to go after more money by hiring the highest-profile agent. What often goes unsaid is that players have a very limited window in which to use their elite athletic skills to make money.
Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 221/64 K/BB ratio over 180 2/3 innings. He did not have nearly the same success last year, going 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA and a 147/40 K/BB ratio in 107 innings.