New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler continues to watch his value soar over the past few weeks. And with Major League Baseball's Jul. 31 trade deadline practically upon us, the market for the 28-year-old continues to heat up.
FanCred's Jon Heyman reported on Monday morning that the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers are four of the most notable teams that have contacted the Mets about Wheeler.
With just hours remaining until the deadline is up, contending teams that are in need of pitching have zeroed in on Wheeler given his recent run of good form. Over his past five starts, Wheeler has posted a 3-0 record with a 2.56 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 38.2 innings of work.
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It's been a sudden revelation for the right-hander, whose career fell into question after he came back flat from a two-year recovery from Tommy John surgery. Wheeler was 2-6 with a 4.85 ERA on Jun. 27 before going on this current stretch.
Who needs Zack Wheeler and why?
For the cross-town rival Yankees, Luis Severino's recent slump on the hill has only made it clear that the Bronx Bombers need to add arms in the starting rotation despite picking up J.A. Happ last week. With the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox far more well-rounded, the Yankees have to act fast should they want to seriously contend for the American League pennant this year.
The Phillies, who came away with second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera last week, are a surprising leader in the NL East this year with the Washington Nationals once again not meeting expectations. They could see Wheeler as a middle-to-bottom-of-the-rotation arm that could slot in for Nick Pivetta, who has struggled this year with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts.
Behind Philadelphia in the NL East is the Atlanta Braves, just 1.5 games out entering Monday evening. It would be a homecoming for Wheeler, who grew up in Georgia as a Braves fan, while adding some firepower to a mediocre Atlanta pitching staff. The suddenly-controversial Sean Newcomb and Mike Foltynewicz could use a consistent No. 3 option to take the pressure off a struggling Julio Tehran and the injured Brandon McCarthy, who is expected to return by mid-August.
Should you ask a Mets fan, the Brewers might be the destination they would want to see Wheeler land at considering that the former three suitors are either geographical or divisional rivals. Milwaukee has been a prevalent name on the pitching market this summer but has not been able to secure an arm to help a pitching staff who doesn't have a starter with more than 10 starts with an ERA under 3.43.
While Wheeler's run of good fortune has seen his name become commnoplace in trade talks, it could be making the Mets balk on said negotiations. Last week, it looked as though it was given that Wheeler would be dealt as he was already getting more buzz compared to staff aces Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. But over the past few days, the tone has shifted and it seems more likely that the Mets could be hanging on to him.
Heyman added that no one has met New York's asking price and the team does not want to let him walk for an underwhelming return, which has been a theme of many trades executed by the Mets over the past two years.