The list of potential suitors for Zack Wheeler grew to include the Houston Astros just before ESPN's Jeff Passan reported the 29-year-old starting pitcher agreed to a five-year, $118 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
It was just the latest buzz surrounding Wheeler:
The Phillies had been most seriously linked to Wheeler, who rejected the New York Mets' one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer. Philadelphia was rumored to be interested in Wheeler before last season's July trade deadline as well, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.
ESPN's Buster Olney reported early Wednesday that the Phillies were "seen by sources as the most potent bidders" for Wheeler, while the Mets hadn't shown to be "seriously involved" in trying to re-sign him.
Wheeler had been with the Mets since he made his MLB debut in 2013. His best season came in 2018 when he went 12-7 with a 3.31 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. However, he posted a career-high 195 strikeouts and 195.1 innings last season.
The right-hander carries an extensive injury history. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2015 and didn't return until April 2017. In February 2018, Wheeler went through a series of injections to strengthen his throwing arm. Last season, he spent time on the injured list with shoulder fatigue.
Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg lead the pitching market, and the Astros' interest in Wheeler could have been attributed to Cole's expected loss. Less expensive but still effective pitchers will be appealing to teams that don't want to pay for free agency's leading duo.