By Matt Higgins


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Phillies have signed a top-of-the-rotation starter to pair along with Aaron Nola. The Phillies on Wednesday inked former New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, according to multiple reports.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s a five-year deal worth $118 million.

Wheeler fills a major hole in a Phillies’ rotation that was highly ineffective last season. Nola was the only starter to finish 2019 under a 4.00 ERA. Three starters — Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, and Nick Pivetta — were demoted to the bullpen before being brought back. Jake Arrieta made 24 starts before his season was cut short due to an elbow injury.

Wheeler, though, comes with his own question marks as his career has been injury-plagued. After undergoing Tommy John surgery, he missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons. In 2017, he had two stints on the disabled lists and only made 17 starts.

But, Wheeler has been on the upswing, going 23-15 the past two years with a 3.64 ERA. Wheeler’s fastball topped out at nearly 97 mph in 2019, which was fourth-best in the league. He also struck out 195 batters in 195 1/3 innings.

Wheeler was a popular name on the free agent market because he’s not costing as much as aces Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg and he’s also thrown 1,000 fewer innings than Madison Bumgarner.

Even though they signed Wheeler, the Phillies could still sign another starter this offseason and they still have question marks at second and third base after non-tendering Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco. The organization also needs to settle on a center fielder and filling out their bullpen.

Wheeler was drafted by the San Francisco Giants sixth overall in the 2009 MLB Draft. The Giants traded Wheeler to the Mets in 2011 for outfielder Carlos Beltran.

Since the Mets offered Wheeler a qualifying offer and he rejected it, the Mets will receive a compensatory pick from the Phillies.

In five seasons, Wheeler has a 44-38 record with a 3.77 ERA.