Before next month’s July 31st trade deadline the Yankees are surely going to attempt to add another front line starting pitcher to their rotation. Right-hander Zack Wheeler from the Mets is likely going to be available for the right price. Should they pursue trading for him?
Throughout the years the Yankees and Mets haven’t agreed to many trades. In recent years the two sides discussed two separate trades that would have seen Neil Walker and Jay Bruce go the Yankees but neither one came to fruition. This past offseason there were rumblings about Noah Syndergaard being traded to the Bronx in a three-team deal that would’ve involved the Marlins and JT Realmuto. That ended up falling through as well.
Could things change this year? Barring a miraculous turnaround by the Mets it’s safe to assume that Wheeler is going to be on the trading block in the coming weeks. The Mets are in a tailspin of late losing seven in a row, dropping their record to 37-47. Wheeler is in the final year of his contract and will become a free agent this offseason so if the losing continues they’d be crazy not to consider trading him for some promising prospects.
From the Yankees standpoint dealing for Wheeler makes some sense but only if they can get him without having to give up any of their top tier prospects. That includes OF Clint Frazier who the Yankees aren’t interested in trading for a rental pitcher such as Wheeler or Madison Bumgarner.
So far this season Wheeler has struggled to follow up his career year in 2018 with similar results. In 17 starts he’s 6-5 with a 4.51 ERA and 115 K’s in 107.2 IP. His WHIP is 1.26 and opponents are hitting .251 against him. The strikeout numbers are very solid and he’s on pace to pitch over 200 innings but he’s allowed 15 home runs which is too much.
Despite his high ERA and propensity for giving up the long ball Wheeler is trending upward of late only allowing two earned runs over his last two starts in 13 IP. And according to sources found by Andy Martino of SNY the Yankees reportedly “love” Wheeler and have for weeks now.
Even though he has somewhat lackluster numbers up to this point it’s no surprise the Yanks are infatuated with Wheeler because they like hard throwers who have high strikeout rates. They also like guys with high ground ball rates as Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted which is why they’re rumored to have interest in Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman as well.
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In terms of what it would cost to acquire either Wheeler or Stroman, the Yankees would probably have to give up less for the Mets right-hander. His numbers are worse than Stroman’s and he’s not under team control like the Jays right-hander is through 2020. However, when it comes to upside Wheeler might have the edge because he has better stuff and when he’s on his game can really dominate the opposition.
All that being said the problem for the Yankees is the Mets are likely going to be very reluctant to trade one of their top players to the Bronx. With all the scrutiny their franchise is under right now I doubt the Wilpons would be open to trading Wheeler to their cross-town rivals to help them make their postseason push.
It might seem silly but that’s the way their ownership thinks and have ever since they bought the franchise. So as much as the Yankees love Wheeler I just don’t see a trade happening because of all the bad press the Mets would get if he ended up helping them win championship #28.