Update, 2:04 p.m. Wednesday: Zack Wheeler, the Texas Rangers top free-agent pitching target, is staying in the National League.
Wheeler is leaving the New York Mets to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, according to multiple reports.
The Phillies have reached an agreement with Zack Wheeler, sources tell @TheAthletic. The ex-Met stays in the NL East, and close to New Jersey, where Wheelers wife is from.— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 4, 2019
Right-hander Zack Wheeler and the Philadelphia Phillies are in agreement on a five-year deal worth more than $100 million, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019
The Dallas Morning News Evan Grant reported earlier Wednesday that Wheeler had ruled the Rangers out and intended to pick his destination before the start of MLBs winter meetings Sunday.
Wheeler followed through, and hes staying in the NL East.
Original story, 9:17 a.m. Wednesday: The Rangers will not land their top free-agent pitching target this winter.
Right-hander Zack Wheeler has informed the club that it is no longer in consideration, according to a major league source. Wheeler has indicated to teams that he will likely make a decision before the start of the winter meetings, which begin Sunday in San Diego. He is reportedly considering Philadelphia strongly, along with the Chicago White Sox and perhaps Cincinnati.
Wheeler, 29, was seen as the most attractive free-agent pitcher on the market this year despite the presence of both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, who have longer track records. Both Cole and Strasburg, however, are expected to earn $30 million or more per year in free agency. Wheeler is seen as having the upside to be a similar pitcher, but at a lower cost because of the shorter track record. But lots of other teams see him the same way. And his market has shot up.
Before free agency, the conventional wisdom on Wheeler was that hed get a four-year deal worth about $18-19 million per year. It quickly has gone to at least five years and more than $20 million per year. It is possible he could get a sixth year from the ultimate winner.
It is unclear where the Rangers go for additional starting pitching, though they remain in the market. They appear to be reserving their mega offer for third baseman Anthony Rendon. The next tier of pitchers includes Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dallas Keuchel of Atlanta and Madison Bumgarner of San Francisco. Its not clear if the Rangers would play on any of those pitchers or drop down another level to a group that includes the likes of Michael Pineda, Rick Porcello and Julio Teheran.