Times are tough in Philadelphia.
As we learned back in November, the Phillies had themselves a difficult year financially. Word came out that the team lost $2 billion in 2020 so they’re going to have to tighten things up.
Now, look, if you believe that the Phillies lost $2 billion last year, I would love to take you on a trip to the Sahara Desert to sell you some sand. But the point here is that the Phillies did lose money and they’re doing poorly enough they felt compelled to leak information that they’ve lost a cartoon sum of money to essentially validate the fact they aren’t going to be signing any free agents this off-season.
I’ve already discussed how this could result in the Blue Jays ending up with J.T. Realmuto as their big free-agent splash this winter. Beyond no re-signing Realmuto, though, the Phillies might also be looking to shed the salary of their big free-agent addition from last winter.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Phillies are open to trade talks around Zack Wheeler. This generally wouldn’t be much of a rumour to talk about given the fact teams say they’re willing to entertain trade talks on just about every player. But since the Phillies have made their financial turmoil such a public thing suggests this could be more than a nothing, clickbait rumour.
The Phillies’ owner denied the rumour stating that he hadn’t authorized such talks around Wheeler. He also said “if they offered me Babe Ruth, I wouldn’t trade [Wheeler] for him,” which makes sense because trading for a dead guy would be a bad strategy.
Wheeler inked a five-year contract worth $119 million roughly one year ago today and the Phillies still have to pay him nearly $100 million over the next four years. If the organization wants to shed a large sum of cash, this is the way to do it.
From a Blue Jays’ perspective, this is interesting because the team was in on Wheeler last winter. The Blue Jays, of course, struck out on Wheeler but ended up signing Hyun Jin Ryu to a four-year deal worth $80 million.
If the Phillies are looking to trade Wheeler, you’d think the Jays would be interested in circling back. He had a fantastic season in 2020, posting a 2.92 ERA over the course of 11 starts. Wheeler also had baseball’s lowest home runs against per nine innings in 2020, though his strikeout numbers were down from his previous seasons with the Mets.
This year’s market isn’t great for adding high-quality starting pitching. Trevor Bauer is obviously the big fish but the list dries up pretty quickly after that. If Wheeler is available, he might be the best chance the Blue Jays have of adding a top-end starter this winter.