Phillies

Phillies in serious pursuit of free agents Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius

Phillies in serious pursuit of free agents Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius

On Tuesday night, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak described the free-agent pitching market as “slow moving.”

By Wednesday morning, the pace had picked up significantly and Klentak and the Phillies are right in the middle of it.

Multiple sources confirmed an ESPN report that the Phillies are in serious pursuit of right-hander Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler, 29, has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency in his career, but he possess elite stuff — his 97-mph average velocity was fourth-best in the majors in 2019 — and is seen as a pitcher ready to blossom into a major difference-maker.

With Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg sitting at the top of the free-agent market and looking at deals that could rise above $200 million, Wheeler has become a much coveted second-tier option for teams. The Reds, Rangers, White Sox, Angels and Yankees are all seen as being in the mix along with the Phillies. It will likely take a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $100 million to land Wheeler. The Phillies, in win-now mode and desperate for starting pitching, have financial resources and could meet that price.

Cole and Strasburg could linger on the market for some time as agent Scott Boras, who represents both pitchers, seeks megadeals for his two studs. The industry belief is that Wheeler will sign sooner than Cole and Strasburg, possibly even before the winter meetings kick off this weekend in San Diego.

Wheeler, profiled here last month, has long been considered a good fit for the Phillies. There was even talk of the Phillies making a play for him at the trade deadline last July, but the New York Mets hung on to him.

In addition to Wheeler, the Phils are engaged in talks with free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is a favorite of new manager Joe Girardi.

So far the off-season has been quiet for the Phillies. Landing Wheeler and Gregorius would get things moving in a good direction. Stay tuned. Things are hot.

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Phillies schedule: Phils-Braves postponed because of inclement weather, doubleheader Sunday

Phillies schedule: Phils-Braves postponed because of inclement weather, doubleheader Sunday

Friday night's series opener between the Phillies and Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park has been rained out.

It was a "quick bang" as they say in the baseball business, no waiting around for the bad weather to clear out. That's part of the health and safety protocol for the COVID-impacted 2020 season. Major League Baseball does not want players and staff sitting around for long periods of time in enclosed areas like a clubhouse.

The postponement will be made up as part of a doubleheader Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Game 2 begins 40 minutes after Game 1 ends. The Phillies have 53 games remaining on their schedule and six of them will be played as part of doubleheaders. They already played a doubleheader Wednesday night, splitting with the New York Yankees.

Jake Arrieta will start for the Phillies Saturday against the Braves. Vince Velasquez will start one of the games of the doubleheader Sunday. The starter for the other game is still TBA. The Phils could promote prospect Spencer Howard to make the start. More on that as it becomes available.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Massive early-season Phillies-Braves series on tap

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Phillies Talk podcast: Massive early-season Phillies-Braves series on tap

The Phillies will play 40% of their games against the Braves over the next four days, making this a massive early-season NL East series.

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss that and more on the latest Phillies Talk podcast.

• How do Phils and Braves match up in 2020?

• How often can the Phillies' bullpen do what it did in series finale vs. Yankees?

• They're lucky to have Hector Neris.

• Starting pitching has been good so far â€” particularly Zack Wheeler.

• Phillies quietly Top 6 in on-base percentage and slugging.

• Phillies bound for regression one way or the other.

• Yankees complaints.

• J.T. owes the fans a pizza.

• Will we hear the air horn every game now?

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