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Every Team Wants Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler is one of the most sought after free agents this off-season and there will be not shortage of teams interested in his services. Minnesota has been connected to Wheeler, but there is no guarantee that he will wind up in a Twins uniform. Let’s dive into the Wheeler market and see what could separate the Twins from his other offers.
Image courtesy of © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota’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.


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213 Comments

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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 20 2019 09:23 PM

I'm guessing he won't do a short term deal as suggested here. Pitchers rarely win in that scenario. It would probably need to be well in excess of 20M per season for him to think of a 2-3 year deal. I do think that the work Wes Johnson did might be something that would get some pitchers to consider coming here. They are after all very competitive by nature and the idea of potentially taking an already very good career a step up might get them thinking HOF... 

 

He's not my first choice, but I'm not against the signing either. 

    • brvama likes this

If he has that much interest he will easily get a 5 year deal. Probably like 5/90M. His agent could probably squeeze a 6 year deal out of a desperate team.

    • denarded and dbminn like this
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Nash Walker
Nov 20 2019 10:25 PM

Good topic and article Cody! I really think Wheeler would be enticed by Falvey and Levine, and I think they should be considered a favorite to sign him. In my unbiased :) opinion, he will come to Minnesota. The White Sox and Rick Hahn recently told fans not to get "too excited" about their offseason and that winning is not a huge priority until at least 2021. The Angels will be focused on Cole and Wheeler seems out of the price range for San Diego with their various commitments and a desire to extend Tatis. I see the Twins as the best fit. I can't wait to find out! I am also nervous!

    • Oldgoat_MN, Sconnie, tarheeltwinsfan and 3 others like this
The Mets were trying to trade Wheeler while at the same time trading for Stroman. Why when they thought they had a shot at wildcard?

Well, if you look at Wheeler he had an ERA at 4.41 at the end of August. Some team will think he is worth 5 years and $90 million. Will you get 30 starts after his previous injuries?

The Mets are one of the worst teams signing bad contracts and only had a short period in the mid 80's in which they were annual contenders. At least they could see that when Wheeler is pitching they will win about half his starts.

I fear the Twins will be outbid for Wheeler. He's that perfect "2nd tier" fit for so many clubs, and right now there are probably at least 20 MLB clubs going into 2020 thinking they're going to upgrade and contend.

 

I think the Twins may have to trade in order to bolster their starting rotation next year.

    • TopGunn#22, Dman and wabene like this

Diehardtwinsfan made a good point about the lure of working with Wes Johnson. I would think that is a very positive for the Twins in any conversation with FA pitchers. Especially those on the fence. As a team, Falvine have created a very attractive destination for FA players, IMHO. While far from an expert, I place Wheeler signing with the Twins at better than 50%.

    • DocBauer and MN_ExPat like this

When considering a Wheeler contract, I think you must compare with what you expect(hope) to sign Berrios for. To me Berrios has been better and healthier than Wheeler. Right now I would put Wheeler as a second to Berrios. I don't think Wheeler is bad number 2 option in your rotation but I would focused more on what he's done than what we hope he might do.

I have seen multiple people reference a 5 year $90 million contract, to me this seems incredibly optimistic as a Twins fan. I will be shocked if his AAV is below $20 and I would expect it to be closer to $23 million. If you are skeptical of signing Wheeler for 5 years at $90 million you are realistically not even in the bidding for him imo. 

 

    • gunnarthor, TopGunn#22, Wyorev and 1 other like this
What did Corbin get last year? Closer to that....

 

What did Corbin get last year? Closer to that....

 

Corbin got 6 years for $140 million. AAV of $23.3 million.

    • gunnarthor likes this
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Battle ur tail off
Nov 21 2019 11:57 AM

Yep, I think you are looking over 20 mil a year no matter what. Probably 5/110 would be the best deal we could hope for.

    • Wyorev and wabene like this

Giving 30 year-old Zack Wheeler 5-6 years and, say, somewhere between M$110 - 140? Meanwhile, well inside the window of that contract, you need to pay (or not) Buxton, Sano, Berrios, even Garver, plus some number of other starting pitchers through free agency. I mean, if we're going to change 60 years of franchise history and bet big on a short-term window...I'd wish for an opportunity to go way big and get more of a needle-mover than Zack Wheeler. 

    • denarded likes this

 

Giving 30 year-old Zack Wheeler 5-6 years and, say, somewhere between M$110 - 140? Meanwhile, well inside the window of that contract, you need to pay (or not) Buxton, Sano, Berrios, even Garver, plus some number of other starting pitchers through free agency. I mean, if we're going to change 60 years of franchise history and bet big on a short-term window...I'd wish for an opportunity to go way big and get more of a needle-mover than Zack Wheeler. 

 

Like whom? the players that are available are the players that are available. Next year's SP market looks not so good, btw....

It seems that the Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, and the Twins are all having discussions with Wheeler at this point.Sounds like the Sux are pushing hard after they signed Grandal.Allegedly the Twins offered Darvish 5/$100M or so when he signed with the Cubs for 6/$130.I think that Wheeler will command something similar, but I just don't see many teams going for even 5 years. The first 4/$90M offer should probably havehim sign 

    • TopGunn#22 and DocBauer like this

Wheeler's in a great place and he'll get paid. Too many teams need pitching but can't afford Cole or Strasburg so they'll go hard on Wheeler. One team will pay him more than what anyone expects. I'm not sure he gets that sixth year but I'd be very surprised if his AAV is less than 23.5m.

    • Mike Sixel, Battle ur tail off and sweetmusicviola16 like this

 

Wheeler's in a great place and he'll get paid. Too many teams need pitching but can't afford Cole or Strasburg so they'll go hard on Wheeler. One team will pay him more than what anyone expects. I'm not sure he gets that sixth year but I'd be very surprised if his AAV is less than 23.5m.

 

I agree, I was more thinking Corbin's AAV. I'm guessing 5 years around 110 million or so.

    • sweetmusicviola16 likes this

I have no head for the ridiculous money's that are spent on players in FA so I will confine my statement to this - I want him.He is exactly what this club and rotation needs. 

    • sweetmusicviola16 likes this

 

Like whom? the players that are available are the players that are available. Next year's SP market looks not so good, btw....

True. So...would I be upset if they spent that on Wheeler? No, hard to be upset when it would make them better in 2020, and the only alternative was to do less or do nothing. Still, based on how much better Wheeler makes them for that cost, I wouldn't be very optimistic that that contract would end up being worth it.

 

If nothing else it highlights what a horrible position the organization has carved for itself with regard to starting pitching. Bad drafts, bad development, bad luck, bad trades...or unwillingness to make trades. Now you're forced to consider making deals like this.

What he has done, not what he might do, I think he's max $18M per IMO. However, that will not win the FA battle for his services. It will take 4yrs and $20M per. I can live with that. I think the first team at 5yrs gets his name on the dotted line.

I wonder if Falvine will go for 5 years?

 

I wonder if it would make any difference that Wheeler's agent is Jet Sports Agent -- Byron Buxton's agent.

what's better: 3/80 or 5/110? 

what's better: 3/80 or 5/110? 

The former seems like the "bet on yourself" play. But when I look at this pitcher's age-29 similarity scores on b-r.com, which someone else reminded me of in a different post, I'd say grab the guaranteed extra $30M.

 

From the team's perspective, the "bet on yourself" contract looks more like "we'll pay for just the tasty center core from the watermelon, thank you very much."

 

Three years is a long time when you're a pitcher entering your thirties.

    • glunn, cmoss84 and MN_ExPat like this
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tony&rodney
Nov 22 2019 12:10 AM

Perhaps a major thought in deciding how high to go for Wheeler, Bumgarner, or another pitcher is to focus on the current core of the Twins and what is a reasonable budget. If the Twins want to keep the core together and just add a few pieces then there needs to be room in the Budget for $130-$140. If we are restricted to less, then the Twins need to complete some very creative trades. For simplicity, adding Wheeler for 5/100 and Bumgarner for 4/80 works. This expenditure would bring the team to the mid 130s. Personally, I wonder if $140 is in play. 

Wheeler's in a great place and he'll get paid. Too many teams need pitching but can't afford Cole or Strasburg so they'll go hard on Wheeler. One team will pay him more than what anyone expects. I'm not sure he gets that sixth year but I'd be very surprised if his AAV is less than 23.5m.

Those teams go hard after Wheeler? He has given up nearly 2 more runs a game to teams above .500 than below in his career. Suddenly some team can't afford Cole or Stephen Strasburg so they blow their budget on this future playoff winner.

 

Edit: he clarified in a follow-up that he meant 5 years, $89 mil (5 years at the current QO rate of $17.8 mil).

    • nicksaviking, TopGunn#22 and DocBauer like this

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