Three Possible Landing Spots for Zack Wheeler
By Kevin Gamgort
With the 2019 MLB Trade Deadline approaching quickly, New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler remains one of the most enticing trade pieces on the market. At 29-years old, Wheeler had the best season of his career in 2018. This year, Wheeler has been up and down, posting a 4.69 ERA and 6-6 record in 19 starts. Although Wheeler has shown inconsistencies, he could provide valuable rotational depth to a pitcher-needy team at a fraction of the cost of pitchers like Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, whose names have been linked as deadline trade pieces.
With the Mets in fourth place of the NL East with a 40-50 record, their season is all but over barring a miraculous second-half resurgence. Likely already building towards next season and beyond, it might make the most sense for the Mets to acquire assets for Wheeler, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the culmination of this season.
Here are three potential teams that could make a deal for Wheeler in the coming weeks.
Boston Red Sox
It’s no secret that the defending World Series champions are looking to add another arm to their rotation. Ken Rosenthal recently reported that the Boston Red Sox are pushing to add a starting pitcher and are hopeful to land one sooner rather than later.
As for which starting pitcher they will land, Wheeler has been a name linked to Boston.
According to recent reports, the Mets have begun early discussions with the Red Sox regarding a deal for Wheeler. Although the Red Sox currently sit at 18th in the league with a starting ERA average of 4.70, they’re hopeful that Wheeler could turn around his shaky start with a change of scenery. Last year, the Red Sox made a similar acquisition at the deadline when they landed Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays. Eovaldi went on to serve a pivotal role in Boston’s playoff run and eventual WS title. For the Red Sox, who will likely try to stray away from trading top-end prospects, Wheeler could be the perfect solution to provide much-needed depth to the rotation. His $5 million contract will be no problem financially for Boston and worth the risk if he can serve even half the role that Eovaldi did last year. Sitting at third in the division and a few games out of the Wild Card spot, the Red Sox are desperate to add rotational depth for their second-half push. It looks like Wheeler might just be the guy.
New York Yankees
Competing with divisional rival Boston for Wheeler, the New York Yankees are also looking to add another starter to the fold. However, with the Mets and Yankees history, or lack of history, in conducting trades with each other, it seems like it will be difficult for the Yankees to strike a deal with their crosstown rival. Although it’s been reported that the Yankees have had conversations with the Mets centered around Wheeler, it will likely take a bigger haul for them to strike a deal than any other team they’re competing with. To trade Wheeler for assets and have him excel on another team would be something the Mets could live with. However, if Wheeler were excelling for the crosstown Yankees, it wouldn’t sit right with both the fans and management. If the Yankees are truly interested in Wheeler, they have a plethora of talent and assets they could put together for trade. However, at that point, it’s up to the Mets if they want to take a chance on providing help to the team they despise, even if it may help them in the long run.
Sitting at second place in the NL East, the Milwaukee Brewers are 47-44 and right on the cusp of the second Wild Card spot. In the tightest divisional standings race in the league, the separation between the first place Chicago Cubs and last place Cincinnati Reds is less than five games. For the Brewers, who made the playoffs last season and boast the reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich, it’s imperative that they add depth to their rotation if they want to make a second-half push. According to recent reports, the Brewers have been enamored by Wheeler and may look to strike a deal for the hard-throwing righty.
Although their interest in Wheeler has been reported, the latest rumors also indicate that Milwaukee is interested in Mets’ pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
Although the Brewers have interest in Syndergaard, he will most certainly warrant a higher price. Although Syndergaard has struggled this season, over the past few years, he has established himself as a top-tier pitcher in the entire league. With the Mets asking price for Syndergaard likely incredibly high, it might make sense for the Brewers to shift their focus on Wheeler.