Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg are easily the best pitchers available in free agency, but another starter is drawing plenty of interest during the MLB offseason. Zack Wheeler is eyeing a big payday after rejecting the New York Mets’ $17.8 million qualifying offer.

According to’s Jon Paul Morosi, the Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox are the frontrunners in the race to sign Wheeler. Morosi also reported that the Minnesota Twins are a potential destination for the right-hander.

The New York Yankees have been linked to Wheeler since the summer. He could be a backup option for the Yankees if they are unable to land Cole.

Los Angeles is viewed by many as the favorite to sign Cole. San Diego is considered a contender for Strasburg.

Zack Wheeler Mets Yankees
Zack Wheeler #45 of the New York Mets pitches against the New York Yankees during their game at Yankee Stadium on May 13, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Al Bello/Getty Images

Teams probably won’t be able to wait and see where the star pitchers on the market land before acquiring Wheeler. Morosi expects Wheeler to sign a contract before Cole and Strasburg ink their new deals.

Cole’s free agency is expected to extend into 2020. He’ll likely set the record for the most lucrative contract for a pitcher in MLB history.

Wheeler will probably sign for less than half of what Cole earns, but he could be in line for a nine-figure payday.

Wheeler didn’t put up terrific numbers in 2019, though he had a strong second half to finish the season with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. The 29-year-old has a 3.65 ERA with close to a strikeout per inning over the last two seasons.

The Mets seem content to let Wheeler walk in free agency. The team traded for Marcus Stroman before the 2019 MLB trade deadline.

It was once thought that the Mets would keep Wheeler and trade Noah Syndergaard, but New York intends to keep Syndergaard for the upcoming season.