Phillies agree to $118M deal with free agent pitcher

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For the second consecutive offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies have made a major splash in the free-agent market.

The Phillies have agreed to a five-year, $118 million contract with former New York Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, according to a baseball official with knowledge of the deal. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because terms have yet to be officially announced.

Wheeler, 29, was considered one of the top pitchers available this winter – behind only Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg in USA TODAY’s free-agent rankings – and his arrival will bolster a pitching staff that ranked 11th in the National League last season with a 4.53 ERA.

The Phillies overhauled their roster last offseason, signing outfielder Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract – as well as acquiring All-Stars Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto – but finished a disappointing 81-81 and failed to make the playoffs.

Wheeler posted an 11-8 record and 3.96 ERA last season with the Mets, striking out a career-high 195 batters in 195 ⅓ innings. He missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow so his relatively light career workload (749 ⅓ innings) at his age was one of the reasons he was so highly valued on the free-agent market. Of course, having a fastball that averaged 96.7 mph and ranked him fourth in the majors among starting pitchers last season didn’t exactly hurt either.

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