Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most coveted free-agent pitchers is now off the market. 

Zack Wheeler is reportedly headed to the Philadelphia Phillies after signing a five-year deal worth $118 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds were among the other suitors pursuing the 29-year-old right-hander. Wheeler, the consensus No. 3 pitcher available in free agency, lands in Philadelphia with a chance to be an ace for a team with playoff aspirations.

He’s coming off a strong 2019 season in which he had a 3.96 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and a 195/50 K/BB ratio across 195 1/3 innings. He also enjoyed success in 2018 with career-best marks in ERA (3.31) and WHIP (1.12).

Of course, many teams believe Wheeler’s ceiling is even higher. As his 10.4 percent swinging-strike rate and 17.5 percent K-BB rate in 2019 demonstrate, he possesses sharp command and an ability to miss bats.

Wheeler's repertoire particularly interested teams and it could help make him an ace with Philadelphia’s pitching coach Bryan Price. Wheeler ranks in the 94th percentile for fastball velocity and the 71st percentile for the spin on his curveball, according to Baseball Savant. He also threw MLB’s second-hardest slider, giving him a nasty three-pitch mix.

A few tweaks made by Price to Wheeler’s approach on the mound, such as using his slider more and working his fastball higher in the zone, can unlock an ace. While the deal might look surprising to some, it could end up a bargain if Wheeler reaches his potential and stays healthy.

Wheeler will likely slide in behind Aaron Nola to become the No. 2 starter in Philadelphia’s rotation. It’s a huge boost to a team seeking to compete with the Atlanta Braves, who have been very active, for the NL East crown in 2020.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.


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Can you name the player with the most career RBI for every MLB franchise?
SCORE:
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TIME:
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ARZ / 774 / OF
Luis Gonzalez
ATL / 2,202 / OF
Hank Aaron
BAL / 1,695 / SS
Cal Ripken Jr.
BOS / 1,844 / OF
Carl Yastrzemski
CHC / 1,880 / 1B
Cap Anson
CHW / 1,465 / 1B
Frank Thomas
CIN / 1,376 / C
Johnny Bench
CLE / 1,084 / OF
Earl Averill
COL / 1,406 / 1B
Todd Helton
DET / 1,811 / OF
Ty Cobb
HOU / 1,529 / 1B
Jeff Bagwell
KC / 1,596 / 3B
George Brett
LAA / 1,292 / OF
Garret Anderson
LAD / 1,271 / OF
Duke Snider
MIA / 672 / OF
Giancarlo Stanton
MIL / 1,406 / SS
Robin Yount
MIN / 1,540 / 1B
Harmon Killebrew
NYM / 970 / 3B
David Wright
NYY / 1,995 / 1B
Lou Gehrig
OAK / 1,179 / OF
Al Simmons
PHI / 1,595 / 3B
Mike Schmidt
PIT / 1,540 / OF
Willie Stargell
SD / 1,138 / OF
Tony Gwynn
SEA / 1,261 / DH
Edgar Martinez
SF / 1,860 / OF
Mel Ott
STL / 1,951 / OF
Stan Musial
TB / 892 / 3B
Evan Longoria
TEX / 1,180 / OF
Juan Gonzalez
TOR / 1,058 / 1B
Carlos Delgado
WAS / 1,015 / 3B
Ryan Zimmerman

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