Philadelphia Phillies: Owner John Middleton denies Zack Wheeler rumors

Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field on September 26, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field on September 26, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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MLB Twitter was livid on Sunday when rumors on the Philadelphia Phillies plans for Zack Wheeler began. But owner John Middleton has no plans to trade him.

The baseball world exploded on Sunday when rumors that the Philadelphia Phillies were open to hearing offers on pitcher Zack Wheeler started to swirl. It was believed that due to the Phillies’ Covid-19 related financial issues, they’d be willing to trade Wheeler to unload his contract.

But now, according to Buster Olney, Phillies owner John Middleton is making it clear that his team will absolutely not be trading Wheeler.

“They’re lying to you,” Middleton said. “If they offered me Babe Ruth, I wouldn’t trade him.”

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Well drastic overcompensation aside, this is as good as a guarantee that Wheeler will play for the Phillies next season. And thank god he will. In less than two hours, the story had transformed from “Wheeler might get traded” to “Could Bryce Harper waive his no-trade clause”.

The Phillies had just begun to invest in high-quality talent when Covid-19 hit. It sucks for them that they lost out on fan revenue with the fifth highest payroll in baseball. It sucks even more that their exorbitant payroll couldn’t even will them into the expanded postseason. The Boston Red Sox were the only team to have a higher payroll and still miss the postseason.

The Phillies still have a lot of work to do on their roster if they want to contend. And signing Bryce Harper for possibly the rest of his career is a promise to the city that you’re trying to contend. Trading Wheeler would have been a huge blow to the organization. But keeping him also isn’t enough to turn this team into a winner. Especially considering that they’re also willing to let J.T. Realmuto walk.

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Unless Middleton is willing to invest big in the free agent market, the Philadelphia Phillies were already going to take a step back in 2021. But trading Wheeler would have set this club back years.