There’s no specific indication that the Mets are particularly willing to move Wheeler, but the club indicated yesterday that it would at least entertain offers for its best pitchers. If Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are both potentially available, it stands to reason that the Mets’ front office wouldn’t hang up on callers inquiring on Wheeler.
Clearly, Wheeler isn’t going to draw the kind of offers that the Mets’ top hurlers will. But he’s an interesting arm in his own right. The former sixth overall draft choice has been through a lot in recent seasons, but is finally rounding into form right as the deadline approaches.
Wheeler missed two full seasons as he struggled to make it back from Tommy John surgery, then turned in 17 middling starts last year. He owns only a 4.47 ERA in his 88 2/3 innings over 15 outings thus far in 2018, but the peripherals are much more promising. Wheeler has retired 8.7 batters per nine via strikeout while issuing 3.3 walks per nine, with ERA estimators viewing him as a solid performer (3.66 FIP, 4.01 xFIP, 4.01 SIERA) over the first half of the season.
The signs have pointed up of late. As Wagner notes, Wheeler carries a 3.38 ERA through his past eight starts. And his fastball velocity has steadily trended up over the course of the season, with Wheeler sitting at 97 most recently. With a meager $1.9MM salary, the hurler comes plenty cheap. And he can be retained for another campaign via arbitration.
Despite the encouraging signs, it’s still hard to imagine that rival teams will be willing to stake their best prospect assets on a pitcher whose recent past includes so many questions. On the other side of the equation, the Mets have little reason to dump Wheeler for whatever they can get. If the offers aren’t sufficient, the club will happily allow him a chance to fill innings and build value. After all, Wheeler could certainly still be a worthwhile offseason trade candidate or 2019 rotation piece for the Mets.