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Mets' Wheeler rewarded in arb case

Right-hander to compete for rotation spot at Spring Training
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Zack Wheeler prevailed in his arbitration case against the Mets this week, a source confirmed Thursday, resulting in a $1.9 million salary for Wheeler in 2018. The Mets had countered with a $1.5 million offer, but Wheeler -- unlike the Mets' eight other arbitration-eligible players -- did not settle.

The move puts the Mets' payroll at a shade over $144 million heading into 2018. The team's official payroll last Opening Day was roughly $155 million.

NEW YORK -- Zack Wheeler prevailed in his arbitration case against the Mets this week, a source confirmed Thursday, resulting in a $1.9 million salary for Wheeler in 2018. The Mets had countered with a $1.5 million offer, but Wheeler -- unlike the Mets' eight other arbitration-eligible players -- did not settle.

The move puts the Mets' payroll at a shade over $144 million heading into 2018. The team's official payroll last Opening Day was roughly $155 million.

New York's final budget number could still go up, with the team interested in adding a pitcher before Opening Day. But general manager Sandy Alderson indicated Wednesday that such a signing would more likely be for a low-level starter or swingman than for a mid-rotation arm such as Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb. As such, the team's 2018 payroll isn't likely to shift much from its current level.

"We're keeping our eye out," Alderson said. "We remain curious about pitching possibilities, but I can't say that we'll do anything. We'll just see where things go over the next week, 10 days."

With that as a backdrop, Wheeler's importance to the roster grows. Mostly inactive since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2015, Wheeler returned to make 17 starts last season, going 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA. The Mets shut him down in August due to a stress reaction in his right arm, the latest in a string of setbacks since Tommy John.

Now 27 years old, the former top prospect is far from a lock for New York's rotation. He will compete for a job this spring with Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and others, though it's possible the Mets will revisit the possibility of using Wheeler out of the bullpen. He could also wind up on the disabled list or in the Minors on Opening Day.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Zack Wheeler