What we all got, instead, was a somewhat bizarre overreaction from the team's managing general partner John Middleton. As quoted in the New York Post:
"If they offered me Babe Ruth, I wouldn’t trade him," Middleton told ESPN, adding the names of Ted Williams and Mike Schmidt to stress the point. "I have authorized no one to have a conversation about trading him."
ESPN had reported earlier Sunday that high-ranking executives from other MLB teams said Philadelphia made it known that its second-highest-paid player was available.
They’re lying to you," Middleton said, per ESPN.
Of the three names mentioned by Middletown, Ruth and Williams no longer call this mortal coil home, while Schmidt just turned 71 in September. He looks great for his age, but it's probably safe to say that his days as a productive ballplayer are long gone.
Olney had sources that offers were being taken on Wheeler, and that certainly may have been the case. There's no way of telling whether the Phillies were just listening or seriously exploring a trade. At this point — with the team struggling to contend after a rebuild that was supposedly going to put them in position to do so — trading Wheeler would be a real P.R. disaster for the team.
One message is clear from all of this: don't expect to offer the Phillies salary relief and a dead ballplayer or a septuagenarian, no matter how great they once were, and walk away with Zack Wheeler. It just ain't going to happen. You're going to have to be willing to part with real, active ballplayers to have any hope of making a deal.
When I get a bit frustrated with how slowly this hot stove season is progressing, this is a pretty good reminder of the type of dysfunction that used to be the daily reality for a Mets fan. I guess I can live with the waiting.
I'll be back tomorrow, God willing, with a regular post. Please stay safe, be well and take care.
Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos