MLB Rumors: Zack Wheeler is one of the free agent starting pitchers the Texas Rangers have targeted, and Jon Heyman says it is “very possible — maybe even probable” that Wheeler has a deal done before the MLB Winter Meetings, which start Monday, December 9, in San Diego. Ken Rosenthal said last night that Wheeler has “at least one $100 million offer” and is expected to end up with a five year deal for more than $100 million, and lists the Rangers, along with the Chicago White Sox, the Minnesota Twins, the Cincinnati Reds and the Toronto Blue Jays as being among the teams that are making a run at Wheeler.
Wheeler was the #6 overall pick in the 2009 draft by the San Francisco Giants, who traded him to the New York Mets for Carlos Beltran at the trade deadline in 2011. Wheeler’s early years with the Mets were rocky, as he logged a total of just 2.1 bWAR with a 93 ERA+ in 371.2 IP over 66 starts from 2013-17, including missing all of 2015 and 2016 due to Tommy John surgery.
Wheeler has a 3.65 ERA and a 3.37 FIP in 377.2 IP over 60 starts the past two seasons, however, with 7.4 bWAR and 8.9 fWAR. The 29 year old righthander is seen as having the potential to take a step forward, as his results have, in the eyes of some, lagged his stuff. As a result, he’s been a popular target with teams who think they can unlock his full potential and get more out of him than a 3-4 win pitcher.
While the market for Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg could take a while to fully develop, it sounds like things with Wheeler are coming to a head sooner rather than later, which means that the Rangers should know soon one way or the other if they have their offseason starting pitching shopping list checked off, or if they will still be hunting.