According to a source, the White Sox made a higher five-year offer to free-agent pitcher Zack Wheeler than the reported $118 million deal he received from the Philadelphia Phillies. Family considerations, reported to be Wheeler's fiancee's preference to stay close to home, were the deciding factor. Our Chuck Garfien reported that the White Sox contract offer was worth more than $120 million, with the highest amount of guaranteed money Wheeler was offered.
That important information ought to squelch any "here we go again" reactions believing that this situation mirrored the outcome of the Manny Machado derby in February. Then, it was reported that the White Sox fell well shy of the guaranteed money in Machado's deal with the San Diego Padres. This time around, it appears the financials were not the reason the White Sox lost out, which is in line with the teams aggressive approach to the offseason that saw them land free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal on the richest contract in franchise history.
Obviously, had Wheeler accepted the White Sox offer, his contract would own that title.
Wheeler would have slotted in well alongside Lucas Giolito at the top of the White Sox rotation, and his age and contract length would have aligned perfectly with the White Sox plans for a lengthy contention window. Instead, they'll have to pursue alternate options, such as free-agent starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel, or seek an upgrade via trade. The White Sox are in the market for a pair of starting pitchers this winter, a necessity considering the large number of young pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery and some of the other unknowns that exist in the team's current crop of starters.
How the White Sox end up plugging those holes remains to be seen. But the fact they had the highest bid in the Wheeler sweepstakes shows they're willing to pay for the upgrades they need.