Sox Must Offer Record Contract To Land Wheeler

Wheeler already has a $100-million offer in hand and is looking for more.

Bruce Levine
December 03, 2019 - 10:33 pm

(670 The Score) It was a year ago around this time that general manager Rick Hahn famously declared the White Sox "deserve a seat at the table" with the stars in free agency.

While that was the organization's belief, the White Sox came up empty after Manny Machado rebuffed their $250-million contract that could've reached $330 million with incentives. Now in a more quiet manner, the White Sox are looking to make a splash in free agency with some of the money they didn't dole out last offseason.

After spending $123 million to add catcher Yasmani Grandal and retain first baseman Jose Abreu, the White Sox front office is setting its sight on spending big on free-agent right-hander Zack Wheeler.

If the White Sox are to land the 29-year-old Wheeler, it will take a record contract from the organization to do so. Wheeler already has a $100-million contract offer in hand, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, and the expectation is it will take more than that to sign him. The biggest contract the White Sox have ever handed out in their history came recently -- the $73 million they gave Grandal on a four-year deal just a couple weeks ago.

Wheeler has been the White Sox's No. 1 target since the offseason began, as 670 The Score reported on Nov. 26. That hasn't changed. They remain in remain in "hot pursuit" of him, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Tuesday. Wheeler is also drawing interest from the Twins, Rangers, Reds and Astros, among others.

The belief is Wheeler will land a five-year deal. That's a contract length that the White Sox have never given to an external free-agent pitcher. They have extended their own pitchers in Mark Buehrle, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana at such length. 

Wheeler has posted back-to-back strong seasons after injury-plagued seasons from 2015-'17. He has a combined 3.64 ERA and 1.19 WHIP while striking out 8.9 batters per nine innings in 60 starts for the Mets across the past two years. Wheeler has a 3.77 ERA in his career, the entirety of which has been spent with the Mets.

The White Sox have their sights on adding more than just Wheeler moving forward. They want to add two veteran pitchers. They're also looking to address their hole in right field, and reports surfaced Tuesday that the White Sox have engaged the Dodgers in trade discussions for Joc Pederson, who would provide a power lefty bat. The two teams also discussed a Pederson trade last offseason.

With an abundance of promising young players, the Dodgers could be looking to open up a spot in their lineup by moving Pederson, whose under contract control through 2020.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.