Mets RHP Zack Wheeler had a breakout season in 2018, with his incredible second half performance stacking up with those of some of the best pitchers in the game -- including teammate Jacob deGrom.
With Wheeler set to hit free agency after the 2019 season, GM Brodie Van Wagenen was asked Tuesday at the GM Meetings whether he's gotten any indication Wheeler and his agents are open to doing anything long-term.
"I'll be meeting with his representatives down here, as I'll be meeting with a lot of the different agents that represent our current roster," Van Wagenen said. "But I'll be meeting with his camp here in the coming days."
Whether Van Wagenen's meeting with Wheeler's agents will involve a discussion of a potential long-term deal remains to be seen, but it's something the Mets would be wise to be open to given Wheeler's age and breakout 2018.
The 28-year-old Wheeler is projected to make $5.3 million in 2019 during what is his final year of arbitration. Any potential long-term extension the Mets discuss would almost certainly revolve around buying out that final year of arbitration while adding years on -- something that would be beneficial to Wheeler (who would get a large monetary guarantee a year early) and the Mets (who would get him locked up at a potentially below-market rate for 2020 and beyond).
As noted above, Wheeler reached another level this past season -- especially during the second half -- when he had a 1.68 ERA in 11 starts. Overall, he finished the year with a 3.31 ERA (3.24 FIP) and 1.12 WHIP with 179 strikeouts in 182.1 innings.
Digging a bit deeper, Wheeler was worth 4.1 fWAR, had the best HR/9 rate of his career (0.69), the best walk rate of his career (2.71), and held opponents to the lowest hard-hit rate of his career (24.8 percent).