Every Team Wants Zack Wheeler
Image courtesy of © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY SportsMinnesota’s Advantages
The Twins certainly seem to be on the cusp of something big with a rising young core and other supplemental veteran pieces. Last season, the team had a historically good offense and better pitching could have been the difference between a first-round exit and a long playoff run. Minnesota has Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi penciled into the rotation and this could be intriguing to perspective pitchers.
Wheeler could view the Twins as launching point for the rest of his career. He could sign a short-term deal for a significant amount of money to help build his value. He won’t turn 30 until next May and some pitchers continue pitch well into their mid- to late-30s. Wheeler could improve himself in Minnesota before moving onto another club.
Other Team’s Advantages
Minnesota hasn’t made it out of the first round of the playoff since 2002 so a pitcher might want to sign on with a different team to have the opportunity move further into the playoffs. Also, the Twins don’t exactly have a lot of starting pitching depth at this point. There are plenty of minor league pitchers that earned opportunities last season, but there weren’t any pitchers that proved they should be guaranteed a rotation spot.
The American League Central Division is also at a crossroads after dominating years from the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland won three consecutive division titles on the heels of a Kansas City World Series title and four straight Detroit division titles. Minnesota had been irrelevant for most of the decade and this might not exactly attract free agent arms to the Twin Cities.
Free Agent Fit
There are much bigger names on the free agent market like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. While the other teams are fighting over those two pitchers, the Twins could sweep in and sign Wheeler. Cole and Strasburg are coming off historically good seasons and they will get paid like front-line starters. However, Wheeler might not be seen as on the same level and this could allow other teams to sign him for a lesser value.
According to reports, the Twins have already begun discussions with Wheeler and his camp. Wheeler averaged a career-high 96.1 mph with his fastball, and this helped him to collect nearly 200 strikeouts and a career-high 3.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. With the help of Minnesota’s coaches, he might be able to make the next step and become an All-Star caliber pitcher.
His strikeout percentage was lower than pitchers like Jose Berrios, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but all of those players made an All-Star appearance. Fangraphs believes his fastball has more potential because of its horizontal break and his slider is also has room to grown. The potential is there for Wheeler to become the ace of a staff or at minimum, supplement the other pitchers that are already at the top of a rotation.
Is Wheeler someone the Twins like well enough to outbid other teams? Would Wheeler be willing to come to Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.