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3 Ways Phillies Could've Improved Their Rotation Without Massive Zack Wheeler Deal

Zack Wheeler
The Philadelphia Phillies spent a fortune on Zack Wheeler to lead the rotation. | Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies wasted no time adding talent this offseason by signing Zack Wheeler to a $118 million deal Wednesday. This is a bold move considering Wheeler's only made 126 starts in his career and has yet to exceed 200 innings in a season. Was this the right move?

A few other options stood out as better alternatives, one could argue.

3. Trade With Cleveland

Aaron Civale
Aaron Civale is under team control for years on a cheap deal. | Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Indians are full of pitching talent. Corey Kluber has been the ace for years, but guys like Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac are all in the running to take over his crown. Civale and Plesac reached the majors in 2019 and are under team control for years. The Phillies could have acquired any of the Indians pitchers and saved a lot of money in the process.

2. Bring Back Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels
Cole Hamels could have made a return on a one-year deal. | Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The market is moving fast and Cole Hamels is now a member of the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies could have targeted their former ace on a one- or two-year deal well below Wheeler's price. That would have paired Hamels with Jake Arrieta and the team could have made a trade or two to get young pitching talent. All for much less than $100 million combined.

1. Give All That Money and More to Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg
The Phillies could have truly gone all in with a big offer for Washington's ace. | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Phillies gave a largely unproven Wheeler $100 million. Why not up the ante and give a big deal to someone proven like Stephen Strasburg? Such a deal could have been backloaded and the Phillies would have instantly boosted their status as a true contender. Instead, the franchise sunk a fortune into a pitcher who has never made an All-Star Game or a postseason appearance.