Wheeler's health not trade's breaking point
Recovering righty may still be dealt as Mets seek hitting upgrades
NEW YORK -- Like everyone else, Zack Wheeler was watching Wednesday's game between the Mets and Padres when he first heard word leak that he had been traded to the Brewers. Wheeler called his agent, who confirmed that a deal was in place pending medical reviews.
"I've been through it before," Wheeler said Thursday in a telephone interview, referencing the July 2011 trade that initially sent him from the Giants to the Mets. "It's not the most fun thing, I guess you could say. A lot of stuff runs through your mind."
Speculation exploded on Twitter, some of it centered upon Wheeler's own health -- he's completely fine, progressing as expected four months removed from Tommy John surgery. But Wheeler did his best to ignore it, understanding that his medicals couldn't have been the culprit.
"I think most people would understand that I just had Tommy John and that's that," Wheeler said. "There's nothing else going on with it. Trade for a guy that just had Tommy John, you never know what's going to happen when he comes back. But I'm feeling good right now, feeling healthy and looking to get better."
With a day remaining until Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, Wheeler knows there is a chance he could still be dealt. The Mets are hoping to add another bat to their lineup, according to a source, with a strong preference for someone who can spell Juan Lagares on a regular basis in center field -- something Carlos Gomez could have done had the Mets not balked at the state of his right hip.
Gerardo Parra, another Brewers outfielder, qualifies, but the two teams discussed him earlier this month and could not agree on a price point. Another logical option is San Diego's Will Venable, but he represents a dubious upgrade over in-house candidate Kirk Nieuwenhuis. And while the Mets retain interest in Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, he is not a center fielder.
Given the Mets' resistance to trading Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz, any significant deal might still include Wheeler -- and he knows it. If it happens, he'll accept it. But Wheeler would regret his inability to become part of the solution in Flushing.
"I've been here in the organization a few years now," Wheeler said. "I've been through the rebuilding stage and I want to be here until it's finished. I want to be a part of this pitching staff that we have here. I'm down here [in Florida] working my butt off to get better and come back better and be healthy. I just want to be a part of what's going to happen here pretty soon.
"I'd like to stay here and finish up what we started."
Wheeler threw off flat ground Monday for the first time since his surgery, and he plans to continue progressing throughout the summer. With the Mets headed to Miami for a three-game series starting Monday, he hopes to make the short drive south from Port St. Lucie, Fla., to cheer on his teammates in person.
Yet these days, there's always a qualifier. Wheeler's was: "If I'm still here."