Phillies Extend Zack Wheeler on a Massive Three-Year Deal

The Philadelphia Phillies have extended Zack Wheeler through the 2027 season, guaranteeing their ace $126 million over three years.

Zack Wheeler of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch in the first inning of an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park.
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 22: Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch in the first inning of an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on August 22, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Zack Wheeler agreed to a three-year, $126 million contract extension (starting in 2025) with the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday morning. Buster Olney of ESPN was the first to report the extension. Matt Gelb of The Athletic had the terms of the deal. The team confirmed the agreement shortly afterward.

Dave Dombrowski has faith in his guys.

Less than four months after re-signing long-time ace Aaron Nola to the largest contract for a pitcher in Phillies franchise history, Dombrowski has extended Nola’s co-ace, Zack Wheeler.

The $42 million AAV of Wheeler’s new contract is the highest in Phillies history. It’s the fourth-highest in MLB history. The All-Star right-hander joins Shohei Ohtani, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Aaron Judge as the only players with an average annual salary over $40 million.

Ad – content continues below

In the past, the Phillies have been hesitant to dole out long free agent contracts to starting pitchers. Then came Nola. They’ve been equally hesitant to offer high AAV contracts to superstars, preferring to tack on a few extra years to reduce the luxury tax hit. Then came Wheeler.

Sometimes, you have to break the rules for the right players.

Over his four years in Philadelphia, Wheeler has been one of the best starters in baseball, with a 3.06 ERA and 675 strikeouts in 101 games.

Since 2020, he ranks fourth in the majors in innings pitched. Out of the 74 hurlers who have thrown at least 400 innings in that time, he ranks 9th in ERA, seventh in strikeout-to-walk ratio, and third in FIP. No one else comes close to his 19.3 FanGraphs WAR.

His unique combination of durability and dominance has been unparalleled.

Although Wheeler only has one All-Star appearance and one top-five Cy Young finish to show for his efforts, he has had his moments of glory with Philadelphia. In 11 postseason outings, he has a 2.42 ERA in 63.1 IP. He took the mound in Game 5 of the 2022 NLCS, helping the Phillies clinch their first NL pennant since 2009.

Ad – content continues below

Needless to say, Wheeler has been an integral part of his team’s return to contention. And clearly, the big bosses agree.

Wheeler will turn 34 years old this season. He’ll be 35 the year after that, then 36, and then 37 during the final year of his extension. That’s how aging works.

Most players aren’t contributing at a $42 million level in their late thirties. That’s also how aging works.

Yet Wheeler has proven over the past four years that he has more in common with the Scherzers and Verlanders of the game than he does with the average pitcher. Early-career injuries may have pushed him off of the Hall of Fame track, but since his 28th birthday, Wheeler has been as dominant as anyone.

And he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

In 2023, Wheeler led all pitchers in FanGraphs WAR. He ranked in the 99th percentile in pitching run value, per Baseball Savant. The ZiPS projection system thinks he’ll be the third-most productive pitcher in the game next season. The Steamer projection system has him in second.

Ad – content continues below

There’s a reason the Phillies are so high on this guy. He isn’t just good. He isn’t just great. He’s otherworldly.

Wheeler was talented enough to convince the Phillies to commit a record AAV to a pitcher entering his late thirties. He was talented enough that they didn’t work any team options, incentives, or other convolutions into the contract. He was talented enough to convince the Phillies to keep paying luxury tax penalties for the foreseeable future.

So, there’s only one question left to ask: Is he talented enough to lead the Phillies to a World Series title?