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New York Mets Avoid Arbitration With Zack Wheeler

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2015, the young right-hander missed the 2016 season, but the Mets are being cautious with one of their top young assets and will be paying him as such.

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the New York Mets and pitcher Zack Wheeler have agreed to a one-year deal worth $800,000 next year, avoiding arbitration. 

https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/819293179606351881

Wheeler, who missed the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015, was one of the tougher projections in arbitration with so many questions surrounding his health. Many thought he may end up getting $1 million, but the team and his representatives agreed to slightly less. This was his first season going through the arbitration process and will still be under team control through the 2019 season. 

Wheeler, 26, is sometimes the forgotten man in the Mets young rotation. His talent is undeniable and was a key piece before going down with arm trouble. Once considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game, Wheeler broke into the big leagues during the 2013 season, making 17 starts and posting a 3.42 ERA over 100 innings. Wheeler opened the 2014 season in the Mets rotation and was one of the best young arms in the game, going 185 innings and posting a 3.54 ERA. So far, Wheeler has compiled 285 innings in the big leagues and has proven that he can be an anchor when healthy, but the team will be cautious with him until they are sure he is fully recovered.

Wheeler is one of several young arms the Mets have in penciled into the future rotation along with Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, and Steven Matz. The problem the Mets are running into is that several of these starters have run into injury concerns. With so much young talent, the Mets expect to contend and they expect the talented young rotation to lead the way, but they need to stay healthy.

It remains to be seen how the Mets will use Wheeler when he returns this spring. There has been some talk that they might want to bring him along slowly, maybe even working him out of the bullpen to limit his innings and the wear and tear on his arm. It is certainly possible that they re-insert him into the rotation at some point in 2017, even if he starts in the bullpen. One thing is for sure, they will bring him along slowly, cautiously working one of their prized arms back to full strength. 

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