UPDATE (2:35 p.m.): NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury reported Sunday afternoon that Phillies owner John Middleton said there is "zero truth" to the report that they're willing to trade Zack Wheeler. Team president Andy MacPhail also said there is "no validity" to it.
The Philadelphia Phillies are open to trade offers for starting pitcher Zack Wheeler amid a “financial crunch” just one season into his $118 million deal, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Sunday.
Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of Wheeler inking a five-year commitment with the Phillies. Philadelphia signed the left-hander to anchor the top of its rotation alongside Aaron Nola and so far, he’s come through on his end of the deal.
Wheeler, 30, went 4-2 with a 2.92 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 71 innings (11 starts) during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. His 0.4 HR/9 paced the National League and helped him earn some down-ballot Cy Young votes for the first time in his career.
However, the Phillies once again missed the playoffs despite Wheeler’s efforts. Philadelphia hasn’t secured a postseason berth since 2011, the longest active streak in the NL. Owner John Middleton demoted GM Matt Klentak, who was responsible for the last five of those seasons, in October and the search for his replacement is ongoing.
But the Phillies, like most teams across MLB, sustained significant financial losses in 2020 — though not in the billions as originally reported. The Wheeler news falls in line with previous reports that the Phillies won’t be active spenders this winter despite pressure from the fan base to put a winning product on the field.
Olney reported that there is “no indication” the Phillies are attempting to trade star outfielder Bryce Harper, who they signed to a 13-year, $330 million deal in 2019. Harper’s contract has a full no-trade clause, so any proposal would have to be approved by him before it could go through.
The Phillies don’t appear to have reached that point yet, but they entered the offseason among the favorites to re-sign catcher J.T. Realmuto in free agency. With the team already having some buyer’s remorse for the Wheeler contract, Realmuto’s future becomes all the murkier.