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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Report: Zack Wheeler has at least one nine-figure contract offer

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that free agent starter Zack Wheeler has already received at least one $100 million contract offer and is expected to eventually command a deal of at least five years in the nine figures. Rosenthal adds that the White Sox, Twins, Reds, Rangers, and Blue Jays are known to be in pursuit of the right-hander.

So, what do we make of such offers for someone who had a 102 ERA+ last season and has never been among the top ten pitchers by WAR in their league?

 

QLE Posted: December 03, 2019 at 09:40 PM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: contracts, zack wheeler

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   1. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: December 03, 2019 at 10:34 PM (#5905424)
My first thought was "lunacy". And then my second thought was also "lunacy". And then I realized that 100/5 = 20, and that he's an above average starter. But then I also realized that he will be 30 next year and that Marcel projects him to a 4.04 ERA. And if a bunch of teams are "known to be in pursuit" of him, and he's already got a $100m contract offer, then he's going to end up with a contract >>$100m. So I'm sticking with "lunacy", but it's not quite as bad as I thought at first.
   2. Howie Menckel Posted: December 03, 2019 at 11:45 PM (#5905432)
Wheeler has had decently long stretches of brilliance disguised by the "not so much" stretches.

risky. but with the right pitching coach and film experts, I'd say there's a chance.
   3. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 04, 2019 at 12:39 AM (#5905434)
And yet if he doesn't get an offer like that, we'll hear "collusion" and "salary floor."
   4. Zonk took his own SATs Posted: December 04, 2019 at 12:47 AM (#5905435)
I know he's been fairly healthy the last two years - but my bigger concern would be the long stretches of "How's the rehab coming along?" and "surgery scheduled for..."
   5. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:54 AM (#5905440)

Wheeler has been hurt by the Mets' defense over the past couple of years, but also probably helped by Citi Field in terms of HR allowed. He's better than his 102 ERA+ from 2019, but I'm not sure by how much.

   6. PreservedFish Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:15 AM (#5905441)
Big contract for a SP based at least somewhat on as-yet-unrealized potential, with arm issues in the past ... reminds me of Darren Dreifort.
   7. Lassus Posted: December 04, 2019 at 06:57 AM (#5905443)
I read this both last night and this morning as Zack Greinke and was highly confused.
   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 04, 2019 at 09:11 AM (#5905453)
This seems like a bad idea to me, but hey, it's not my money.
   9. bfan Posted: December 04, 2019 at 10:01 AM (#5905476)
This seems like a bad idea to me, but hey, it's not my money.


You can be sure that wherever he signs that $100 million contract, fangraphs will applaud the move as wise (for the team signing him). They seem to have moved from balanced analysis to "EVPDAR" (every veteran player deserves a raise).

With the quality of analytics today and the enhanced teaching of technique being provided by the teams further along that analytics line, I think just about every free agent signing can be justified on the basis that someone might be able to pull another 10% of improvement out of a player (which is certainly possible; the recent turn-arounds in performance by some players whom one would have thought have peaked has been really amazing, and is one of the most important baseball stories of the past few years).
   10. Itchy Row Posted: December 04, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5905506)
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 04, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5905511)
You can be sure that wherever he signs that $100 million contract, fangraphs will applaud the move as wise (for the team signing him). They seem to have moved from balanced analysis to "EVPDAR" (every veteran player deserves a raise).
So, so true. I think Fangraphs has great content and I have definitely gotten my subscriber money's worth, but man, the drum-banging is starting to get grating. On the one hand, they decry even discussing the financial aspects of the game as a "bummer" (millennials recycle their buzzwords, apparently), but then on the other, just about all of their team analysis includes an obligatory "AND THIS TEAM SHOULD THROW A BUNCH OF MONEY AT VETERAN FREE AGENTS!!"
   12. Itchy Row Posted: December 04, 2019 at 11:13 AM (#5905515)
OK, bummer.
   13. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 04, 2019 at 11:17 AM (#5905518)
2018: 3.9 bWAR, 4.2 fWAR
2019: 3.5 bWAR, 4.7 fWAR

Steamer projects 3.0 WAR for next year.

Former 6th overall pick, so he has the scouting pedigree.

Relatively low innings on the arm.

What do you all think is a fair contract offer?


   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 04, 2019 at 11:25 AM (#5905528)
What do you all think is a fair contract offer?
Depends on what you mean by "fair." In my view, a "fair" contract would allocate some risk to both sides. However, the free agent market got incredibly warped for a lot of years, with huge long-term contracts that pushed virtually all the risk onto the team becoming more or less the standard. The last few years have seen teams trying to pull back from that, of course, with some success (although not at the high end of the market), but they're still fighting the norm that's been in place for a couple decades or more. So "fair," philosophically speaking, is probably going to look different than what would be considered "fair" relative to other top pitcher contracts.
   15. cookiedabookie Posted: December 04, 2019 at 01:03 PM (#5905595)
He seems like the perfect guy to go high AAV, shorter contract. Like 3/90, otherwise I could see 4/100 or 5/110
   16. jmurph Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:42 PM (#5905639)
5 years, $118 million to the Phillies.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:45 PM (#5905642)
Madness. I wonder if it will be enough to satisfy the Fangraphs staff.
   18. gef, talking mongoose & vexatious litigant Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5905646)
5 years, $118 million to the Phillies.


While in the same division, the Braves have apparently agreed to a 1-year, $18 million deal with Cole Hamels.
   19. Blastin Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5905647)
I dunno, I think he can be worth the 3 WAR/year that would match up with 24 million. And the Phillies are right at the sweetspot where every extra win matters the most.
   20. flournoy Posted: December 04, 2019 at 02:59 PM (#5905648)
Relatively low innings on the arm.


His innings are relatively low because he had three years of injury trouble. Give me a high-inning durable guy over a low-inning injury-prone guy any day.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5905649)
Seems about right.
   22. JJ1986 Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:03 PM (#5905650)
I know we evaluate players very differently nowadays, but this feels an awful lot like Darren Dreifort. Wheeler has an ERA+ of 100 (granted in front of a bad defense).
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:05 PM (#5905653)
Wheeler has an ERA+ of 100 (granted in front of a bad defense).

93 FIP- career. 2018: 81 FIP-, 2019: 80 FIP-.
   24. JJ1986 Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:10 PM (#5905655)
93 FIP- career. 2018: 81 FIP-, 2019: 80 FIP-.
Is that park adjusted? If so, those are surprisingly good numbers.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:18 PM (#5905659)
Is that park adjusted? If so, those are surprisingly good numbers.

FG says that it's park and league adjusted.
   26. Rally Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:25 PM (#5905661)
The comp I was thinking of is A.J. Burnett. Wheeler is one year older than Burnett was on his first free agent contract. Wheeler has 2 healthy years, one partial season, and one missed season to TJS, looking back. Burnett had one full season, one half season, and one mostly lost season due to TJS. Both are/were among the hardest throwing starters in the game, with decent results that didn't quite match up with the velocity.

I forget how much Burnett was guaranteed in 2006, and I can't tell from BBref since he opted out after 3 years. It was probably a comparable contract once you adjust for 14 years of baseball inflation.
   27. JJ1986 Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:25 PM (#5905662)
I was gonna say that would make him one of the best starters in baseball, but Fangraphs did have him at 15th in WAR last year (they also had Thor at 17th; the Mets defense is very bad.)
   28. Walt Davis Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:32 PM (#5905664)
Since I'm a Cubs fan, first name that sprang to mind was Darvish. Similar injury histories (Darvish maybe worse), Darvish a better pitcher by any measure I can think of, Darvish a year older at signing -- Darvish got one year longer but only $8 M more. Of course Darvish missed almost all of 2018 so Wheeler probably now is more likely to be a good deal.

I don't recall what year Hamels signed his extension but that's probably another comp, again a pitcher who had already established his quality. Zimmermann seems another reasonable but probably better comp who got a similar deal 4 years ago. Anibal Sanchez signed 7 years ago for much less money. Porcello is a comp but not ... his appeal was durability and youth to go with some "untapped" potential.

While I don't think I'd do it (and I think there are SPs out there I'd rather have), it's not crazy.
   29. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5905668)
Braves: Cole Hamels
Phillies: Zack Wheeler

Mets: bupkis on rye
   30. Dr. Vaux Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:47 PM (#5905670)
The Mets might have gotten the best deal of the day by far, though: https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1202323435260645382?s=09
   31. PreservedFish Posted: December 04, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5905673)
Oh man, Jeff Wilpon in 4 years will be the lamest duck in the history of lame ducks.
   32. Zonk took his own SATs Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:04 PM (#5905676)
While in the same division, the Braves have apparently agreed to a 1-year, $18 million deal with Cole Hamels.


So.... what does this mean for the Cubs decision to not to extend a QO?

I was convinced that it was a wise move not to extend one because Hamels was pretty bad in the 2nd half and my gut says he'd have jumped on it.

He basically signs what would have been a QO.... but - it doesn't cost the Braves a pick....

   33. jmurph Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:07 PM (#5905677)
He basically signs what would have been a QO.... but - it doesn't cost the Braves a pick....

So then the (perhaps overly simplistic) takeaway is that no one would have signed him with the pick hanging over their heads.
   34. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5905694)
dylan bundy to the angels for isaac mattson (a minor league reliever with a good k rate. looks likely to make the show at some point...)

EDIT: oh! for four guys, all rhp. zach peek, kyle bradish, and kyle brnovich are the other three. brnovich is the one i've seen the most (and liked), a 7th (?) rounder out of elon with good college #s and breaking stuff. basically, three 2019 day 2 picks.
   35. Zonk took his own SATs Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:45 PM (#5905697)
So then the (perhaps overly simplistic) takeaway is that no one would have signed him with the pick hanging over their heads.


IDK... that's what I'm asking - I tend to suspect he lingers on the market longer... maybe a plan B for teams (perhaps he doesn't get Dallas Keuchel'ed).

The Cubs-side counter would be that I don't think the Cubs get a top ~40s pick - IIRC, I think it would have been something like top ~140 (2nd or 3rd sandwich?).
   36. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:03 PM (#5905699)
(bradish was actually a 4th rd pick in '18, but didn't debut until last season)
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:21 PM (#5905707)
I wonder if it will be enough to satisfy the Fangraphs staff.
So, the Fangraphs appear to be somewhat pleased, but more spending will be necessary to fully satisfy them. From DJS:

"In my Elegy for ’19 article talking about the Phillies, when discussing the future, my hope was that the team would continue pushing forward financially. ... This was a necessary signing for the Phillies, but probably not sufficient by itself to put the Phillies on the level with the Braves, especially considering the latter’s short-term deal with Cole Hamels on the same day."

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