What has been expected is now official: Zack Wheeler has rejected the qualifying offer from the Mets and will test the free agent market.
By having extended the one-year qualifying offer that is worth $17.8 million to Wheeler, the Mets will receive a compensatory pick in June's MLB Draft if he signs elsewhere.
While it seems likely that Wheeler won't return, it hasn't been ruled out.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen reiterated on Monday what he said last week: the Mets will keep having dialogue with Wheeler regarding a potential multiyear contract -- something they engaged his camp on during the season.
"We'll certainly look to have those dicussions as we go forward," Van Wagenen said.
As far as potential suitors for Wheeler, the Astros, Yankees, and Twins have already made their interest known.
GM Brian Cashman said Wednesday at the GM Meetings that the Yankees have "checked in" on Wheeler, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
The Astros have liked Wheeler for a while, and attempted to deal for him (while also engaging on Noah Syndergaard) during the trade deadline last season, according to Martino.
Wheeler is not viewed as highly as fellow free agent pitchers Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, but he is arguably the top option of the tier just below them. Because of that, he could be a very attractive optilon for teams that don't want to break the bank for Cole or Strasburg and/or teams that try for them but miss out.
It is widely expected that Wheeler will cash in and receive a deal worth between $75 million and $100 million for four or five seasons.