Dodgers’ potential price for coveted ace next offseason just went up with Zack Wheeler extension

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Two
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Two / Elsa/GettyImages

The Dodgers are no longer in the league of their own as the only team who's offered a record-breaking contract this offseason. They have company over in Philadelphia, as the Phillies have extended ace Zack Wheeler for three years and $126 million, making his $42 million/year the richest extension by AAV in baseball history.

Wheeler is coming off of a 3.61 ERA, 192 inning season, after which he pitched 27 2/3 stellar innings during the postseason and placed sixth in Cy Young voting. He's the second major Phillies starter to re-up with the team this offseason, following Aaron Nola, who had a very short free agency before he decided to go back to Philadelphia for seven more years.

The Wheeler extension will inevitably change the market on starting pitchers going forward. It might already have implications for Blake Snell, who's been gunning for a significantly longer deal in free agency than teams have been willing to give him so far. The Dodgers won't feel the effects immediately, but it very well might affect the contract future of another ace they've been rumored to have their eye on: Max Fried.

Zack Wheeler's extension just drove up Max Fried's price for the Dodgers

Braves fans are basically yelling themselves hoarse for a Fried extension, but neither party seems to have made much headway since talks were originally reported in December. The time to do it — the arbitration deadline — came and went in January, with Fried and the Braves agreeing to a $15 million salary to avoid arbitration in his last arb-eligible year. There's still time, of course, but the closer Fried gets to free agency, and with deals like Wheeler's changing the market, the more likely it is that he'll want to test the waters of his market.

The Dodgers will have money freed up by the end of the year, with the contracts of James Paxton, Jason Heyward, Joe Kelly, Teoscar Hernández, and even more Dodgers expiring. There's also always the added benefit of only owing Shohei Ohtani $2 million for the next nine years, so they could still potentially make a play at Fried next year. However, a 33-year-old pitcher getting the most expensive extension in baseball history could make things just exponentially pricier to secure Fried, especially if he can stay healthy this season and have another Cy Young-vote-getting season.