Aside from What many Mets fans believe, Zack Wheeler will not be in the starting rotation come opening day in 2013. The team is in no hurry to rush the youngster because we are not in prime position to win just yet. On Wednesday fellow MMO writers Mitch Petanick and Joe D. weighed in on why they believe he will arrive sooner than expected, I’m here to to tell you why that will not be the case.
The Mets are still reeling from their financial “crisis”, even though they are out of the woods in regards to the major money they were almost on the hook for. They still owe money, and still need to have a season where they make a profit and pay that money back before they can start spending like we were accustomed to seeing. Hopefully this time it will be spent in a much smarter way.
Now let’s get back to Wheeler. There are no doubts about Wheeler’s talent and skill set. The 22-year old phenom shot up the ranks this season. He started as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo’s 35th overall prospect to start the 2012 season, but since Mayo revised his list last week, Wheeler has moved up to number six. Yes, top prospects such as Harper and Trout have moved off the list since making their MLB debuts, but jumping 30 spots to the fringe of the Top 5 really shows how good this kid is.
Wheeler’s 2012 numbers do warrant some serious consideration to leap frog Triple-A. He allowed just 115 hits over his 149 innings pitched and only allowed four home runs all year, while tossing two complete game shut outs. His walks, which were his Achilles heal, also took a nose dive. His BB/9 in 2010 was 4.1, followed by 3.6 in 2011, and dropped even further to 3.3 this season.
The driving force regarding the delay of Zack Wheeler’s MLB debut in 2013 will be strictly a financial decision. The Mets will look to avoid him gaining a 4th year of arbitration by avoiding a potential super two status.
Super Two status following the 2012 season will require two years and 134 days of MLB service time. MLB players have six years of service time before they become free agents, and generally the final three years all players become arbitration eligible.
However, if a player plays more than two years and 134 days over his first three seasons he becomes eligible for a 4th year of arbitration. In simple terms, the player gets four years of arbitration out of six, instead of the average three out of six.
This is typically why you see MLB teams delay the call-up of top prospects until June or July so that they avoid having to pay the extra year of arbitration.
The Mets did this with Harvey this season, and will look to do the same with Wheeler. In an interview on WFAN with Mike Francesa a few months ago, Alderson said that the both Harvey and Wheeler’s development was independent of need. Meaning that if a starter goes down they will not call-up Wheeler and rush him to fill a need. He will be called up when he is ready, end of story.
If the Mets bring up Wheeler at the start of the 2013 season his arbitration clock will start from that day. Wheeler’s numbers may warrant a possible competition for an opening day spot on the roster, but there is no reason to rush him. The Mets will wait, save some money, and give us something to look forward to as his long awaited Major League debut will come in late June or early July.