Zack Wheeler prefers to not be traded. Financial considerations aside, the Mets would prefer to keep him. But the train has already left the station…
The imminent trade of Zack Wheeler was the subject of a compelling article written by Marc Carig for The Athletic. In his story, Carig uncovers a side of baseball few of us ever get to see. It’s commonly veiled as the business side of baseball. But I prefer to call it the human side of baseball.
Zack Wheeler does not like change. Referring to the likelihood that when August rolls around he’ll be wearing a different uniform, he told Carig, “I’m a homebody. I like the group of guys we’ve got here”.
He’s the person in your high school graduating class who still lives in the town or city he grew up in. He’s the person who gets engaged twice before tying the knot. And he’s the person you’d easily recognize with the same hairstyle as all those years ago.
Change, as we know from our life experiences, is not always a choice. Sometimes, it’s thrust upon us, creating a set of circumstances in which we are forced to adapt – or else.
Zack Wheeler: Resistant To Change
Zack Wheeler understands because it’s happened to him before when he was traded to the Mets from the Giants way back in 2011. The memories of that unsettledness are still fresh in Wheeler’s mind, and he is reluctant to face the very real possibility of deja vu, as Yogi Berra would say, all over again.
According to Carig, following Wheeler’s trade to the Mets:
Excepting his development into a premier pitcher in the league, not much has changed since then. Wheeler is still reluctant to be thrust into another realm of the unknown, telling Carig, “I can’t tell you how many years my name has been in trade talks,” he said. “I’m kind of used to it right now. But it never gets easy.”
Wheeler, you’ll recall, was almost dealt to the Brewers two years ago. The deal fell through in its late stages, but word had already reached the Mets dugout. Wheeler let his feelings be known even back then…
For The Mets, Wheeler Throws A Wrench In The Mix
While it’s refreshing to witness a side of Zack Wheeler that contrasts from the robots we see on the field, inadvertently, he may be creating an environment that will make the Mets attempts to trade him more difficult.
For instance, a team interested in trading for Wheeler might wonder if it’s going to take him the five or six years to adjust to his new environment (2012-2017 with the Mets) before he blossoms again, as he has done over the last year in a Mets uniform.
Or, at 29 now and looking at a potentially lucrative contract as a free agent in November, is Zack Wheeler (mentally) able to put the past behind him, accepting a trade for what it is – the business of baseball?
Zack Wheeler on a pennant contending team? Mmm…take your chances on what you’ll get. Not to mention what a team will need to surrender in terms of the price he’ll command in a trade.
Marc Carig’s article, while compelling for the background it provides on Wheeler, did the Mets no favors as they seek to move him before the trade deadline July 31.
And if Wheeler’s agent is paying attention, we can look forward to Wheeler backing off a bit in an attempt to put a different spin on his readiness to be moved by the Mets…