The Philadelphia Phillies made a splash on Wednesday reportedly signing 29-year-old right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract.
Wheeler, who spent five years of his career with the New York Mets, will now pitch at Citizens Bank Park for the foreseeable future. The 29-year-old starter will be a huge upgrade to a Phillies rotation, which struggled mightily in 2019.
As a team, they had an ERA of 4.53, which was higher than the league average of 4.49. Clearly, that number must improve drastically next season.
With the signing of Wheeler, it seems as if GM Matt Klentak and the Phillies’ front office is committed to spending money again this offseason.
Last season, the hard-throwing Wheeler had a record of 11-8 with an ERA of 3.96. The veteran arm was not considered to be the best starting pitcher on the market with Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole being the big prizes of the 2019 free-agent class.
However, getting Wheeler was a big deal for the Phillies, and helps out the starting rotation tremendously.
In addition to starting pitcher, the Phillies are also in the market for a new third baseman and could stay within the N.L. East to fill that void.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reported on Friday that free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon has become the “No. 1 target” for the Phillies.
If the Phillies were to sign the former Washington Nationals third baseman, it would allow them some roster flexibility to make trades. But if they cannot land Rendon, former Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson is their backup option per Nightengale.
This past season, the 34-year-old Donaldson proved that he still has a lot of baseball left to play. The veteran slugger posted a slash line of .259/.379/.521 with 37 home runs and 94 RBI.
Along with Donaldson, the Phillies have been connected to starting pitchers Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.
However, the only issue with signing another top-tier starter or Rendon is that they all are expected to be paid top-dollar this offseason. This means that the Phillies would be going above their payroll threshold ($208 million) and forced to pay a 20% luxury tax.
That being said, it seems as though Phillies owner John Middleton is not worried about paying the luxury tax if they were to go over.
Middleton has made it clear that he wants to see the Phillies get back into the postseason and win a World Series. It does not matter to him how much it costs as he’s willing to spend some “stupid money”.