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P Zack Wheeler and his long-term deal a 'priority,' Phillies president of ops says

Starting pitcher Zack Wheeler would like to work out a long-term deal with the Phillies ahead of the season. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Zack Wheeler would like a long-term deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The right-handed pitcher's five-year, $118 million contract will expire at the end of the 2024 season, and Wheeler said he would like to have everything buttoned up before the season starts.

According to Phillies president of operations Dave Dombrowski, the team feels the same. In fact, Dombrowski told reporters Monday that Wheeler, who will earn $23.6 million this season, is a priority for the front office.

"Zack would not mislead you. Of course we've talked," Dombrowski said via ESPN. "It is a priority. We would love to get that deal done.

"He's a guy we would love to have in our organization for a long time."

When pitchers and catchers reported to spring training last week, Wheeler said a deal could happen at any time, he'd like to be paid for how he has performed, and he has no interest in being in the middle of negotiations. That's what his agent is for.

"Yeah, I think they've talked," Wheeler said Wednesday. "I know they are chatting. I think it could happen any time, honestly.

"Hopefully it does [get done before the season]. I love it here. It's a good organization, we're winning and things are looking great and right. I'd love to be here."

In Wheeler's four seasons in Philadelphia, he owns a 43-25 record with a 3.06 ERA. His 2.42 playoff ERA is the sixth-best in league history (minimum 10 starts).

Wheeler has been a perennial vote-getter for the Cy Young Award, finishing in the top 12 in three of those seasons. He trails only the Yankees' Gerrit Cole, Marlins' Sandy Alcantara and teammate Aaron Nola in regular-season innings pitched (629 1/3) in that span.

The past two seasons, Wheeler and Nola helped lead the Phillies to back-to-back National League Championship Series trips and a 2022 World Series appearance against the Houston Astros. The Phillies lost 4-3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2023 NLCS.

"We love Zack Wheeler," manager Rob Thomson said. "He's a huge part of this ballclub. I don't really know if we're in the contract negotiation, tell the truth. I can tell you this, though, everybody here in this organization loves Zack Wheeler."

Nola was in a similar predicament with Philadelphia last season — playing the season on the final year of his deal. He tested free agency for only a moment before the Phillies signed him to a seven-year, $172 million deal.

So the team already has a roadmap for how to navigate this situation, and Wheeler said that given how negotiations went with his fellow ace, he believes he's in a good place either way.

"I want to be paid on how I've done, what they expect out of me," Wheeler said. "It's not all about the money to me. I took less to come here and be in a good spot, be happy. I do want what I feel like I've earned.

"I've done well the past couple years, past few years, so hopefully that speaks for itself. I don't see any pressure, one way or another. I'm leaving that to my agent and the front office. I'm hands-off and listening."