CHICAGO – For the most part, the White Sox had taken two good early steps towards building their 2020 team in free agency.
They got an All-Star catcher by signing Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract, then gave Jose Abreu a three-year, $50 million deal. While the latter was questioned by some, there was no doubting that Rick Hahn wasn’t afraid to spend early in the offseason.
But on Tuesday, there were two blows to the White Sox offseason, and it came from a position of need for 2020: Starting pitching.
After missing out on Cole Hamels, who signed with the Braves for one-year and $18 million, and even bigger blow happened just a few hours later with perhaps their biggest target to date.
Right-hander Zack Wheeler and the Philadelphia Phillies are in agreement on a five-year deal worth more than $100 million, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019
Former Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler made his decision to sign with the Phillies on a five-year, $118 million dollar contract, taking out a possible veteran pitcher for the White Sox to add to the rotation.
To make it even worse, the team made a larger offer to Wheeler, only to have him turn it down according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
#WhiteSox’s offer to Wheeler was for MORE than the $118M he will receive from the #Phillies, sources tell The Athletic. As @MarcCarig said, Wheeler’s wife is from New Jersey, and that proximity was an important consideration in his decision.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
Wheeler spent his entire career up till now with the Mets, making his debut in the 2013 season. He lost the entire 2015 and 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but regained his form the last two seasons
. He was 12-7 with a 3.31 ERA in 2018 then followed that up with similar numbers last season, going 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA, with his strikeouts increasing to 195 compared to just 50 walks.
For his career, Wheeler has a 3.77 ERA in 126 stars with 726 strikeouts compared to just 270 walks.
Now that he’s out of the picture, Hahn and the White Sox look back towards the free agent market in search of a starter. Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strausburg are likely headed elsewhere, so the attention turns to Madison Bumgarner, Hyn-Jin Ryu, and other frontline starters who are still looking for a new deal.
If their moves so far are any indication, expect the White Sox to do what they can to find another arm for their rotation.