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Sport Yankees 'recently inquired' into Mets starter Zack Wheeler

21:34  12 july  2018
21:34  12 july  2018 Source:   mlbtraderumors.com

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6/29 Mets righty Zack Wheeler has “drawn some inquiries ” in trade talks, according to James Wagner of the New York Times (Twitter link). Player Value--Batting. WAR Explained (v2.2): 8+ MVP, 5+ A-S, 2+ Starter , 0-2 Sub, < 0 Repl. Standard Fielding.

His addition as the fifth starter will give Mets fans a chance to see the Five Aces pitch in order for the first time ever. New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) warms up before the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Port St

Video by Sports Illustrated

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Though Yankees fans might prefer a different target from the Mets’ rotation, the Bronx Bombers have “recently inquired” into the availability of right-hander Zack Wheeler, according to Marc Carig of The Athletic (via Twitter). While Carig cautions that the contact may mostly be a matter of conducting due diligence, it’s still a notable potential connection between these infrequent trade partners.

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The thought long has been that the Yankees would pursue starters, but the level of quality they’ll ultimately end up achieving is still in doubt. Many would argue that the team needs to chase a top-end arm to pair with Luis Severino at the top of its staff in order to take down the rival Red Sox and make a lengthy postseason run.

With no rental arms available that meet that description — unless buyers are fully ready to believe in Nathan Eovaldi, at least —  the attention has been on more controllable pitchers. That may suit the Yanks just fine, as they could well end up considering rotation upgrades at season’s end regardless.

That said, the asking prices for the very best assets figure to be astronomical. That’s no doubt the case for Wheeler’s teammate, Jacob deGrom, whose name has already made the rounds in the rumor mill as a crosstown trade candidate. His complete dominance — 1.68 ERA in 123 1/3 innings — and two remaining seasons of arbitration control make deGrom arguably the very top deadline pitching target in the game. Though indications are that the Mets will at least be open-minded, they’ll understandably be holding out for a truly compelling trade package.

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Mar 7, 2018; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws against the New York Yankees during a spring training game at First Data Field. The former Mets ace has picked things up recently with the Reds.

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Under the circumstances, it’s not surprising to learn that the Yankees are at least taking a closer look at Wheeler. True, Wheeler owns only a modest 4.42 ERA over his 99 2/3 innings on the year. But he’s carrying a solid 8.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 and, more importantly, has shown some other interesting trends.

Wheeler is working at the top of his career velocity levels (96.2 mph average fastball), getting more swings and strikes (11.0%) than ever, and permitting an average exit velocity lower than all but seven other pitchers in baseball. And the results have improved quite a bit of late, coinciding with a rise in Wheeler’s velocity and a steady reduction of his fastball usage in favor of his slider.

The 28-year-old would not necessarily be an instant upgrade to the team’s anticipated playoff rotation, though perhaps there’d be some hope that he’d further establish himself down the stretch. Regardless, there would clearly be value in having him on hand to help a tough AL East battle. And even if he doesn’t currently project to be a postseason ace, Wheeler might be an interesting arm to deploy creatively — say, in a pairing with veteran lefty CC Sabathia, to offer one hypothetical possibility.

There’s added value in Wheeler’s contract rights, though that’s also countered by his spotty health history. He’s earning just $1.9M this season before qualifying for arbitration a final time this coming offseason. The low cost may also be a factor as the Yankees contemplate other upgrades — including, perhaps, other hurlers — as it’d leave plenty of room left to work with under the luxury tax line.

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