Braves are interested in Zack Wheeler

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The Braves should be among the most active teams as the trade deadline approaches given their current roster makeup and prospect depth at the lower levels.

We know their needs. Alex Anthopoulos will be inquiring on any player who can help stabilize the Atlanta pitching staff. Near the top of that list should be Zack Wheeler of the division-rival Mets. Wheeler may not have the name value of players like – Madison Bumgarner, Trevor Bauer, or Marcus Stroman – but he is one of the more intriguing deadline options available, and the Braves are interested.

Andy Martino, a reporter for SNY, discussed last night how the Yankees have Wheeler on their “short-list” of trade targets. He follows it with two noteworthy comments in regards to Atlanta: the Braves are one of several teams interested, and the Mets will not have a problem moving him to their in-state rival, providing they have the best offer.

Now, trading with a team a few miles away typically isn’t the same thing as moving him to a divisional opponent. But the Mets are so far out of it, and Wheeler is on the final year of his contract. The only thing they should be worried about is the haul they receive in return.

As a member of the Mets his entire career, the Braves are overly familiar with the 6’4″ right-hander that hails from the metro-Atlanta area. Wheeler made his major league debut at Turner Field and tossed six scoreless innings in a New York win. At the time, he was widely considered a top-ten prospect in baseball.

His problem has always been health. Before the 2015 season, he was forced to undergo Tommy John Surgery and did not return to the majors until 2017, which was another wasted year riddled by injuries. It was not until last season that he finally looked like himself again, appearing in 29 games – the most since 2014 – and recording the lowest ERA of his career (3.21).

This season has been much of the same for Wheeler. His ERA isn’t the prettiest (4.42), but his FIP of 3.63 suggests he has suffered from some unfortunate luck. The fireballer has posted the highest average fastball velocity of his career at 96.8 MPH, according to FanGraphs, and is on pace to shatter his career high in strikeouts of 189.

It’s basic economics: the supply of game-changing starters at this year’s deadline is low, so the demand is going to be at the ceiling. The price tags on Trevor Bauer, Madison Bumgarner, and Marcus Stroman may not be anywhere near worth it. But on a one-year rental, Wheeler could be a bargain that pays substantial dividends. He posesses the type of arm that can shut down the most potent lineup on any given night, and a move to a contender should only add more juice to the fire.

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