Yankees: Five free agents they should pursue this offseason
5. Zack Wheeler
Last on the list is Zack Wheeler who is coming off of another solid season with the Yankees cross-town rivals. The 29-year-old’s 2019 campaign wasn’t as strong as his career year in 2018 but he still put himself in a good position to be able to cash in with a big contract in the coming weeks. In 31 starts he went 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA and 195 K’s in 195.1 IP. He averaged over six innings a start.
Wheeler finished the year very strong with a 1.85 ERA in September as his season was really a tale of two halves when you look at his splits. Prior to the All-Star break, he posted a 4.69 ERA in 17 starts but after the Midsummer Classic, he had an impressive 2.83 ERA in 12 starts. His performance down the stretch will lead to many teams showing interest in him this winter and the Yankees should be one of them if they miss out on Cole or Strasburg.
Wheeler has always had a great arm with power stuff and a lot of teams believe that he still has some untapped potential. Because of his upside, I’m sure there are clubs who would rather have him than Madison Bumgarner or some of the other top starters on the market like Hyun Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel.
I’d still go with Bumgarner due to his postseason track record but in today’s age of analytics, it’s easy to see why the right-hander is viewed in such high regard. According to MLB’s Statcast website Baseball Savant, Wheeler is considered a similar pitcher to Gerrit Cole based on velocity and movement so he has the repertoire to become a dominant ace as well.
For that reason alone he would be a welcome and intriguing addition for the Yankees and new pitching coach Matt Blake. That being said, he does have a lengthy history of arm injuries so they should be somewhat cautious about offering him a long-term deal.