Zack Wheeler is reportedly on the trade block, but the Dodgers don’t need to get involved.
Before everyone starts calling for the Los Angeles Dodgers to trade for Zack Wheeler after the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly put him on the trade block, let’s cool it. Sure, it’d be great for Andrew Friedman to go for the jugular and bring another high-profile pitcher to LA, but Wheeler isn’t the answer.
Not only will this require a decent trade package to get done, the Dodgers would be inheriting a four-year, $95 million contract for Wheeler, which will take him through his age-34 season. Why does it make sense to trade a potential combination of MLB and minor league talent and spend nearly $25 million per year when Trevor Bauer is available?
Bauer has already been linked to the Dodgers in some way, but the veracity surrounding that buzz is unclear. Wheeler was also connected to LA during the 2019 trade deadline, but that was a different story. Acquiring the veteran as a rental for a playoff push is much different than what this will take.
Just tack on one more year and $30 million and you can probably get Bauer, who is coming off a Cy Young season (though it was in a shortened-campaign), and don’t have to trade any assets. Also, Wheeler has past injury concerns having missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to elbow issues, while Bauer has largely been healthy for most of his career.
But the biggest difference? Bauer gets a ton of strikeouts and Wheeler does not. Their ERAs and WHIPs are similar, but Bauer has the longevity (205 games vs 137) and better stuff. He’s also pitched in the postseason multiple times while Wheeler hasn’t ever made it to October.
Here’s the deal: the Dodgers are far from pitching-starved. They have arguably the best staff in the league. But if Friedman wants to put this team over the edge and get another big-name starter in the rotation, the answer is not Wheeler, especially when someone like Bauer is there for the taking.
On top of that, if you’re going to trade for a pitcher, targeting one owed a lot of money typically isn’t the answer. A cost-controlled arm is usually more worth it when you have a stacked farm system to pluck from when negotiating trades.