Zack Wheeler says agent discussing contract extension with Phillies

Zack Wheeler says agent discussing contract extension with Phillies originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Four years in a row, Zack Wheeler has provided the Phillies with ace-level production.

Two years in a row, he's reached peak performance when it's mattered most, dominating playoff teams in front of national audiences.

He's made an All-Star team. He's won a Gold Glove. He's finished second in Cy Young voting. He's started 10 times in the postseason with the sixth-lowest ERA (2.42) and lowest WHIP (0.73) ever.

He's on the short list of best free-agent signings in Philadelphia sports history, and he's almost set for free agency again.

The five-year, $118 million contract Wheeler signed with the Phillies prior to 2020 — a contract some questioned at the time because it was more about projection than past performance — expires after this season.

Should he reach free agency after 2024, his age-34 season, teams will be lined up. Deep-pocketed, major-market clubs will be in position to offer Wheeler short-term, Max Scherzer-like deals with humongous annual average salaries. And even in his mid-30s, Wheeler's recent track record and relatively low career innings total could convince front offices that he's worth a deal taking him closer to his 40th birthday. (Obligatory "barring injury" caveat.)

It only ever takes one team to change the market for a player, and the Phillies are hoping Wheeler never reaches the market. They want to re-sign him in advance. They wanted the same with Aaron Nola but were unable to reach an agreement before the 2023 season and did so amid uncertainty the week before Thanksgiving with other clubs lurking.

Indications two months ago were that Wheeler's side seemed more interested in testing free agency than re-signing early. But as Phillies pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater on Wednesday for spring training, Wheeler said his representatives are discussing a contract extension with the Phillies.

"I think they've talked. It's just between them right now. I haven't heard much," Wheeler said. "I know they're chatting just like any guy in this situation. I'm just trying to concentrate on what we're doing right now and get ready for the season.

"Hopefully it does (get solved before the regular season). I love it here. We're happy here. It's a good organization, we're winning and all things are looking great and right. I'd love to be here.

"I think it could happen at any time. I don't know if there are deadlines or anything like that. I'm just leaving that to my agent and the front office. I'm kind of hands-off and just listening."

Wheeler, who watched Nola pitch through a walk year in 2023, said he's approaching the upcoming season the same as any other.

"It's not hard at all for me," he said. "Maybe for some guys, but it's just another year for me. Hopefully I go out there and do well, stay healthy and it will take care of itself."

Wheeler made clear that he wants to be paid what he's worth but also said money isn't the only factor involved in his decision, referencing his taking less to sign with the Phillies than the White Sox were offering in 2019.

"It's not all about the money to me," he said. "I took less to come here and be in a good spot and be happy here and my family be happy. I do want what I feel like I've earned, but at the same time, you don't always get that. It's about everybody being happy at the same time. You don't want to be miserable and be paid a lot. You want to be happy and get paid what you earned."