In a nightmare outcome for the Mets, free agent Zack Wheeler has agreed to a five-year deal with the Phillies worth $118 million, SNY's Andy Martino confirmed.
Wheeler's camp circled back to the Mets before he agreed to sign with the Phillies, but the Mets did not make an offer, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post.
While Wheeler got paid handsomely, he actually turned down more money from the White Sox due in part to his desire to remain in close proximity to New Jersey -- where his wife is from -- reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Before reaching an agreement with the Phillies, Wheeler had been connected to the White Sox, Twins, Yankees, Reds, Padres, Astros and Angels.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said multiple times this offseason that the Mets would maintain dialogue with Wheeler's camp and did not rule out a return, but his departure seemed likely as soon as the Mets traded for Marcus Stroman last season.
With Wheeler now leaving the Mets to join a division rival, the hit is far more severe than it would have been had he landed in the American League or with a team like the Reds. The Mets finished five games better than the Phillies in 2019, and that gap has now closed with Wheeler heading to Philly.
After being unable to bridge the gap when it came to a potential extension for Wheeler before the trade deadline, the Mets made him available and were expected to trade him. But they did not find a package to their liking and instead hung on to Wheeler.
Because the Mets extended a qualifying offer to Wheeler after the season (which he rejected), they will receive a compensatory pick in the 2020 MLB Draft now that he has signed elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the hole the Mets expected to have in the starting rotation is now a definite. And they'll have to go about filling it, whether they do so by shifting Seth Lugo or Robert Gsellman to the rotation or signing/trading for someone.
While the Mets have been largely quiet this offseason, their division rivals have not.
The Phillies secured Wheeler and are likely not done making big moves, the Braves have made a flurry of moves (including Wednesday's signing of Cole Hamels), and the Nationals are trying to bring back Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon while also being linked to other top free agents.
It's bad to be reactionary for the sake of it. But the optics right now for the Mets are bad, as is the full actuality of what's going on around them in the NL East. They have a lot of work to do.