Zack Wheeler Rumors: White Sox Pursuing Ex-Mets SP After Yasmani Grandal Signing

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Pitcher Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets in action against the Los Angeles Dodgers during of a game at Citi Field on September 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox are reportedly set to shift their focus to free-agent starting pitcher Zack Wheeler after they announced the signing of catcher Yasmani Grandal on Thursday.

Andy Martino of SNY reported the White Sox are expected to have an "active offseason" but could face a challenge from the New York Yankees for Wheeler.

Other teams with interest include the Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres, per Jon Paul Morosi of the MLB Network.

The 29-year-old Georgia native is coming off a solid 2019 campaign, though he couldn't quite match the career-best ERA (3.31) and WHIP (1.12) he posted in 2018. He finished the year with a 3.96 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 195 strikeouts in 195.1 innings across 31 starts.

He wouldn't rule out a return to the Mets, who acquired him in a 2011 trade with the San Francisco Giants while he was still a minor league prospect, but told Mollie Walker of the New York Post in September he wanted to survey his options on the open market.

"I think you have to weigh your options when it gets to this point," Wheeler said. "I love it here and I definitely would listen to these guys. But I think you have to weigh all your options and see what's best for me personally at that point."

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It's a two-way street as New York, which already features Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz in a strong rotation, will likely want to upgrade other areas before even considering whether to look toward a Wheeler reunion.

Meanwhile, the White Sox are trying to fill holes after recording a 72-89 record in 2019, which was 23.5 games shy of a playoff berth in the American League.

Grandal is a major upgrade for the middle of Chicago's order, but the rotation still needs to improve to make the team a legitimate threat. The club ranked 24th in starter ERA (5.30) this past season with Lucas Giolito serving as the team's only reliable starter for a majority of the year.

Wheeler would give the South Siders a solid No. 2 option behind Giolito to take pressure off the likes of Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease heading into 2020.