Yankees have ‘checked in’ on free agent starter Zack Wheeler
Coming off a disappointing loss in the American League Championship Series, the New York Yankees look primed to add to their starting rotation.
Despite Masahiro Tanaka having some success in the postseason and James Paxton having the occasional outing, the Yankees lacked rotational depth. Domingo German was suspended for the entirety of the postseason, and both J.A. Happ and C.C. Sabathia moved to the bullpen.
New York’s heavy reliance on the bullpen wore on the likes of Adam Ottavino (who struggled throughout the ALCS)) and Chad Green, but the Yankees simply did not have the kind of innings-eater that can be so valuable come October.
The Yankees were always expected to have conversations with Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, but they have also “checked in” on New York Mets starter Zack Wheeler, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
The Yankees have "checked in" regarding Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Zack Wheeler so far, among others, GM Brian Cashman said.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) November 14, 2019
Wheeler was a popular trade candidate in July given that he was on an expiring contract, but an untimely injury paired with a scintillating Mets run prompted the team to keep him in Queens.
The 29-year-old has traditionally excelled after the All-Star break. Wheeler posted a 2.83 ERA in 12 starts in the second half, but he was especially dominant in September.
Perhaps most notably, Wheeler’s peripherals suggest that he has been even better than the numbers on the surface. He continues to cut down on his walk rate, and he uses a fastball-slider combination to keep opposing hitters slightly off balance.
The Mets have interest in bringing Wheeler back on a multi-year deal, but the Yankees might have some extra leverage if they are eventually priced out of the Cole or Strasburg sweepstakes.