Minnesota’s among the teams chasing free agent Zack Wheeler, but the Twins haven’t made the right-hander an offer yet, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News reports. However, Wolfson suggests it’s only a matter of time before that will change. The club reportedly met with Wheeler’s representatives earlier this month.
Whether it’s Minnesota or another team that winds up signing Wheeler, it may have to fork over a nine-figure contract for the former Met. An executive told Dan Hayes of The Athletic that Wheeler should be able to land a five-year deal worth between $100MM and $110MM. A contract worth $100MM or more for Wheeler wouldn’t be particularly surprising, as MLBTR predicted he’d land exactly that much when the offseason got underway three weeks ago.
It obviously remains to be seen whether the Twins will be the team that emerges on top in the bidding for Wheeler, but the reigning AL Central champions’ need for starting pitching is obvious. Righty Jake Odorizzi made the somewhat surprising decision to accept the Twins’ $17.8MM qualifying offer earlier this month, thus patching a hole for the team, but he and Jose Berrios are the only proven rotation options penciled in for next year. The Twins lost free agent Kyle Gibson to the Rangers on Wednesday, while both Michael Pineda and Martin Perez are currently on the open market.
Odorizzi’s decision represents an instance in which the Twins have benefited from the qualifying offer system, though it’ll hurt them a bit if they sign Wheeler (or fellow standout free-agent pitchers Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg or Madison Bumgarner). Adding a single free agent who rejected a QO, as Wheeler, Cole, Strasburg and Bumgarner did, would cost Minnesota its third-highest draft pick in 2020. Of course, that shouldn’t be a prohibitive price for a club that likely expects to reign over its division again next year and compete for a World Series.