The Phillies’ “No. 1 priority” for the remainder of the offseason “is signing ace Zack Wheeler to a contract extension,” MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. Wheeler is set to be a free agent next winter, as he is entering the final season of his five-year, $118MM contract.
Four seasons in, that deal has been an unqualified success from the Phillies’ perspective. Wheeler has the most fWAR (19.3) of any starter in baseball since the start of the 2020 season, as he has posted a 3.06 ERA, 26.7% strikeout rate, 5.3% walk rate, and 47% grounder rate over 629 1/3 regular-season innings in a Philadelphia uniform. The right-hander has been even more dominant during the postseason, delivering a 2.42 ERA over 63 1/3 playoff innings to help carry the Phillies to an NL pennant and an NLCS appearance over the last two seasons.
There aren’t many red flags on Wheeler as he enters his age-34 season, even if his 3.61 ERA in 2023 was the highest of his Philadelphia tenure. He generated fewer grounders and allowed a bit more hard contact than usual, and Wheeler relied more heavily on his signature four-seamer than ever before — he reduced his cutter usage since the secondary pitch wasn’t as effective as it had been in 2021-22.
Health-wise, Wheeler underwent a Tommy John surgery in 2015 and battled some other arm problems during his time with the Mets in 2016-17. He has been quite durable ever since, and a month-long bout of forearm tendinitis late in the 2022 season ended up being relatively minor, as Wheeler returned in strong form for the Phillies’ playoff run.
With his track record of success and durability, Wheeler figures to be one of the most sought-after members of the 2024-25 free agent class, even if he’ll be turning 35 in May 2025. As such, Wheeler and his representatives at Wasserman might seek out a bit of a premium from the Phillies in order to keep the righty from testing the market. A four-year extension isn’t an unreasonable ask given Wheeler’s relatively clean recent health history, and topping the $23.6MM average annual value on his current contract seems like a given.
The Phillies have obviously shown a willingness to spend big in acquiring and retaining star players over the last few seasons, even if this hasn’t manifested itself in many actual extensions. Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez are the only Phillies to sign extensions during Dave Dombrowski’s three-plus years as president of baseball…