The LA Angels are on their quest to find starting pitching this offseason already, but might already be off to a bad start.
Edit: This article was written and scheduled to publish prior to Zack Wheeler’s five-year, $118 million deal with the Phillies.
Tuesday night, the LA Angels were linked to free agent starting pitchers Zack Wheeler per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
I know the Angels need starting pitching just about as bad as any team in the MLB, but this is not the right bidding war for them to get caught in. There are a lot of factors as to why this isn’t a smart idea for the Angels, and it all starts with the money.
The Wheeler sweepstakes are already getting out of hand. Per multiple reports over the weekend, he has already received one offer of at least $100 million for five years of service. That number is only going to go up and up as we get closer and closer to the Winter Meetings next week, and Wheeler might have already signed by then.
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The Angels would be better off signing veteran pitchers in that similar price range. Madison Bumgarner would probably be cheaper despite the far better resume. Hyun-Jin Ryu would probably be a little more costly, but his efficiency the past two years have been elite.
When I wrote an article about five free agents for the Angels to avoid, Zack Wheeler was listed as one of them. For me, I just don’t see him as a pitcher that a team should pay nine digits for. He has great velocity and his injury history isn’t as scary after two relatively healthy seasons, but that doesn’t make him an elite reliever.
The best season of Wheeler’s career has produced a 3.31 ERA, and his career average elevated to 3.77. That is a very solid pitcher. But one worth $20 million annually? I don’t think so, especially with better options out there for roughly the same price.
And, honestly, if the Angels inked Wheeler to a 5-year, $100 million deal, I’d consider it a bad move but I’d live with that number. They’ve signed worse contracts. However, all signs around Wheeler are pointing to an all-out bidding war, and it seems more and more likely that if a team offers him a sixth year, which means the contract would take him through his age 35 season.
Signing a pitcher with an injury history, who has done more bad than good at the MLB level, to a contract through his age-35 season is a poor idea. Some team will likely do it, and it could very well be the Angels.
But buyer beware, Zack Wheeler isn’t worth that price tag, and there’s better avenues to finding rotational help for the LA Angel