New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen was not about to allow criticism recently directed at the organization by former pitcher Zack Wheeler go unchallenged.
What’s more, not only did Van Wagenen defend the Mets, he delivered a savagely sarcastic shot in response at Wheeler’s expense.
Wheeler signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on Dec. 9 on a five-year, $118 million deal. Discussing his moving on from the Mets in free agency, Wheeler said he heard “basically just crickets” from the team, adding that is the reason he didn’t stay in New York.
“Because it’s them,” Wheeler said this week, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “It’s how they roll.”
Upon hearing Wheeler’s accusations, Van Wagenen offered up a pithy retort, arguing that Wheeler's issues with remaining healthy played a part. The dagger was ruthlessly delivered when the Mets GM noted how the Mets’ staff helped Wheeler land such a lucrative deal in free agency.
“Our health and performance department, our coaches all contributed and helped him parlay two good half-seasons over the last five years into a $118 million,” Van Wagenen said Friday, via Tim Healey of Newsday. “I’m proud of what our group was able to help him accomplish. I’m happy he was rewarded for it. Players deserve to be rewarded when they perform well. More than anything else, I’m thrilled with the pitching staff we have.”
After joining the Mets organization in a 2011 trade, Wheeler pitched at the big-league level during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The right-hander then missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to Tommy John surgery.
A very strong showing in 2019 made Wheeler one of the more coveted pitchers on the free-agent market, though, and the Phillies ultimately secured his services with the mega-contract.
“We were interested in bringing him back, and we communicated that,” Van Wagenen said. “Not at that level of contract.”
Fair enough, but what resonates most from Van Wagenen's comments on Friday is the one-liner about how Wheeler is a few good seasons into $118 million, which is such a ruthless passive-aggressive comment.
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