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Zack Wheeler says his agents are ‘chatting’ with the Phillies about a new contract

 WBN  |    Feb 14th, 2024 4:26pm EST

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — At spring training last year, a key question surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies was whether pending free agent Aaron Nola would return after his contract expired.

Now, it’s Zack Wheeler’s turn.

The right-hander has been worth every penny of his $118 million, five-year deal with the Phillies, but that contract expires after this season.

On Wednesday, as pitchers and catchers reported to Phillies camp, Wheeler said it’s possible a long-term deal could happen before the regular season.

“Yeah, I think they’ve talked,” Wheeler said of negotiations between his agent and the organization. “I know they are chatting. I think it could happen any time, honestly.”

The 33-year-old Wheeler said he doesn’t have an exact dollar figure in mind. The Phillies signed Nola to a $172 million, seven -year contract in November after he tested free agency.

“I want to be paid on how I’ve done, what they expect out of me,” said Wheeler, who will earn $23.6 million this season. “It’s not all about the money to me. I took less to come here and be in a good spot, be happy. I do want what I feel like I’ve earned.”

Wheeler has finished top 12 in Cy Young Award voting in three of his four seasons with Philadelphia, including as runner-up in 2021. He’s 43-25 with a 3.06 ERA in that span, ranking fourth with 629 1/3 regular-season innings — only Nola, Gerrit Cole and Sandy Alcantara have pitched more.

Wheeler’s 2.42 ERA in the playoffs is sixth best in MLB history for pitchers with at least 10 starts.

“I’ve done well the past couple years, past few years, so hopefully that speaks for itself,” Wheeler said. “I don’t see any pressure, one way or another. I’m leaving that to my agent and the front office. I’m hands-off and listening.”

Wheeler and Nola are anchors for a rotation that also includes Ranger Suárez, Taijuan Wakler and Cristopher Sánchez. One ace is already locked up. Manager Rob Thomson hopes to continue having both.

“We love Zack Wheeler,” Thomson said. “He’s a huge part of this ball club. I don’t really know if we’re in the contract negotiation, tell the truth. I can tell you this, though, everybody here in this organization loves Zack Wheeler.”

After Wednesday’s bullpen session and team drills, Wheeler said he’s not setting a deadline for an extension to get done. Some players refuse to negotiate once the regular season begins.

“I’ve seen other guys do it, but that’s their cup of tea,” he said. “Hopefully it does (get done before the season). I love it here. It’s a good organization, we’re winning and things are looking great and right. I’d love to be here.”

After watching Nola become a free agent, only to re-sign with Philadelphia, Wheeler likes his bargaining position either way.

“It’s about everybody being happy at the same time,” he said. “You don’t want to be miserable and getting paid a lot. I’ve always liked the organization from the outside looking in.”

Although Nola didn’t speak to reporters Wednesday, he was at camp and participated in team drills.

“He feels like a million bucks right now,” Thomson joked. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a spring training game or World Series game. It doesn’t matter whether he’s making $700,000 or whatever he’s making now. He goes about his business like a true professional.”


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB