While the New York Mets have one of the better trios of starting pitchers in Major League Baseball, they really don’t have any of them locked down.
Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom is under team control until 2020, but long-term extension talks have been dragging at a snail’s pace this offseason, which isn’t improving any notion of the 30-year-old sticking around in Queens.
His status as one of the game’s best pitchers has taken some of the focus off No. 3 pitcher Zack Wheeler, who is coming off the best season of an injury-riddled career.
The 28-year-old, who accrued over 180 innings of work for the first time since 2014, went 12-7 with a 3.31 ERA. The second half of his season was even better as he went 8-1 with a 1.59 ERA in his final 10 starts of the season. That ERA was just 2.30 in his last 17 starts.
It was the kind of performance the Mets expected when they traded Carlos Beltran for him back in 2011. Yet there is no indication that he’ll be staying with the Mets despite finally hitting his stride.
SNY’s Andy Martino reported that the Mets are “undecided” on whether they will commit their future to Wheeler.
The righty will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019 season, which leaves the door for a move near the trade deadline wide open at the moment.
Wheeler’s name cropped up in trade talks during last year’s July 31 deadline as well amidst a dizzying amount of rumors that suggested the Mets would also move deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, who is under team control until 2021.
As the deadline came down to the wire, though, it was actually Wheeler who was getting most of the attention from other teams seeing as he could be had at a lesser value compared to the other two Mets aces.
Those trade talks picked back up again during the winter, though Syndergaard was most notably linked with the crosstown-rival Yankees in a suggested three-team deal that would have seen the Mets get catcher JT Realmuto from the Miami Marlins.
If Wheeler builds off his second half of the 2018 season this year, his value is only going to go up. Should the Mets struggle this summer, or if they’re looking for a big bat, Wheeler could become a key rental for a contending team in need of pitching down the stretch.