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Mets extend qualifying offer to Zack Wheeler

@AnthonyDiComo
November 4, 2019

NEW YORK -- In an offseason full of unknowns, the Mets took care of one obvious move ahead of Monday’s deadline, extending a one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer to starting pitcher Zack Wheeler. Wheeler, who is likely to receive more lucrative multiyear offers on the open market, is a near-lock

NEW YORK -- In an offseason full of unknowns, the Mets took care of one obvious move ahead of Monday’s deadline, extending a one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer to starting pitcher Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler, who is likely to receive more lucrative multiyear offers on the open market, is a near-lock to decline the offer. But the move ensures the Mets will receive 2020 Draft-pick compensation should Wheeler sign elsewhere, in the form of a selection after Competitive Balance Round B -- the equivalent of a late second or early third-round pick.

Wheeler has 10 days to accept or reject the offer, during which time he can negotiate freely with both the Mets and other clubs to gauge his market value. He has already had talks with the Mets, who are interested in bringing him back regardless of the qualifying offer, according to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, and who will “continue to have dialogue with him” if he declines it and becomes an unrestricted free agent.

The qualifying offer is worth the average salary of Major League Baseball’s 125 highest-paid players. For the first time this offseason, it decreased in value, from $17.9 million to $17.8 million.

Plagued by injuries -- including Tommy John surgery and several complications from that operation -- early in his career, Wheeler has been consistently healthy for two consecutive seasons. He threw a career-high 195 1/3 innings in 2019, going 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA and 195 strikeouts. Over his final six starts, Wheeler posted a 1.80 ERA, responding well after the Mets declined to deal him before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

A Georgia native who came to the Mets from the Giants in exchange for Carlos Beltrán in July 2011, Wheeler has often professed his love for his adopted city and team. But he figures to be popular in free agency, with many teams -- including the crosstown Yankees and Wheeler’s hometown Braves -- likely interested.

When asked about his status in September, Wheeler did not betray any of his emotions.

“Whatever happens next,” he said, “it is what it is.”

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