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Analysis

Yankees: Is Zack Wheeler a Potential Target?

With Free Agency just about here, can a former Mets’ starting pitcher be the primary target for the Yankees this Offseason?

The offseason is just about underway, and plenty of names have flooded the free agency market, ranging from Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, and Stephen Strasburg. However, another name on the pitching market may interest the Yankees: Mets’ starter Zack Wheeler.

The Case Against the Yankees Signing Zack Wheeler

Well, he’s not Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, and those two names are far superior pitchers to Wheeler. Wheeler had a 3.96 ERA, and, while that’s not too bad, it’s not superb either. For comparison, the big fish out on the market have a 2.50 ERA and a 3.32 ERA in Cole and Strasburg, respectively.

Another case against Wheeler is the fact that he’s never pitched in the postseason. Preferably, the Yankees would likely rather hunt for someone that has postseason experience and a player that has even had some success in October. Strasburg has a 1.46 ERA in 55.1 career innings in the postseason, which will only jump his value further after his opt-out with the Nationals. Meanwhile, Cole has a career 2.60 postseason ERA in 65.1 career innings, and his 2019, likely Cy Young-winning campaign only swells with all 326 strikeouts Cole gathered in the regular season.

The Case for Signing Zack Wheeler

Although Wheeler isn’t nearly as good as Cole or Strasburg, he does have some positives, and that should interest the Yankees. First off, Wheeler has pitched in New York his whole career with the Mets, proving he can pitch there and have at least *some* success in the Big Apple, and I’m sure that that would draw interest from the Yankees. Wheeler also averaged a strikeout per inning in 2019, which proves that he has some good stuff in his arsenal that just needs to be accessed.

Another plus with Wheeler, much like Cole and Strasburg, is that he’s an inning-eater. Wheeler pitched 195.1 innings in 2019 and 182.1 innings in 2018. It’s rare now that we see pitchers near 200 innings, and the fact that Wheeler approaches that is encouraging that he can make 30+ starts a year.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees leaned towards Wheeler in the offseason over guys like Cole and Strasburg. He’s cheaper than the other options and considering the Yankees are trying to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold, a player like Wheeler should be right up the Yankees’ alley.

Personally, I think Wheeler will make about $90 million over 4-5 years and I expect the Yankees to make a run for the former Mets’ right-hander. Time will only tell who the Bombers decide to bring in during the long Winter.

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