Phillies extend Zack Wheeler – NBC Sports Philadelphia

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The most pressing Phillies question was answered Monday morning when the team signed ace Zack Wheeler to a three-year contract extension running through the 2027 season.

The deal pays Wheeler $126 million, according to a source, which is an annual average value of $42 million per year.

Wheeler had been set to reach free agency after the 2024 season. The Phillies were determined not to let that happen. The question was whether Wheeler’s side would want to re-sign ahead of free agency given how robust a market he’d likely have.

This deal, however, achieves the goal of making him the fourth-highest paid player ever on a per-year basis. There’s the Shohei Ohtani contract, which is in a class of its own, Max Scherzer at $43.33M per year and Justin Verlander at $43.3M. Then Wheeler.

Wheeler turns 34 on May 30 and will turn 37 early in the final season of his contract. The Phillies are clearly confident he will continue to age well. The best seasons of his career have been the last four in red and white pinstripes.

Since signing his initial five-year, $118 million contract prior to 2020, Wheeler has gone 43-25 with a 3.06 ERA in 101 regular-season starts. In the playoffs, he’s been one of the most effective starting pitchers in MLB history, with a 2.42 ERA and 0.73 WHIP in 11 games (10 starts). His WHIP and opponents’ on-base percentage are both the lowest ever for a pitcher in the postseason.

That first contract Wheeler signed with the Phillies turned out to be a steal. He signed it the same winter the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $326 million contract. Wheeler has equaled Cole since then, if not outperformed him given the postseason heroics.

Opinions were mixed when the Phillies paid Wheeler that much. He had missed two full seasons in 2015 and 2016 because of an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He had excellent second halves in 2018 and 2019 but never a consistently dominant full season. That’s all changed in Philadelphia.

He’s led all pitchers in Wins Above Replacement the last four seasons, he’s finished second in Cy Young voting (in a year when he threw 46 more innings than the winner), won a Gold Glove and made an All-Star team.

He and his wife Dominique have also welcomed three children since he joined the Phillies, including a daughter named Winter last week. Zack was away from the team for 72 hours on paternity leave, returned during the weekend and signed his new deal Monday morning.

Now he can pitch without uncertainty in 2024 and the Phillies can rest easy knowing one of the most important players in baseball will still be theirs.

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