<pre><pre>Brodie Van Wagenen shoots back at Zack Wheeler for shooting crickets

PORT ST. LUCIE – Brodie Van Wagenen delivered his own fastball at 98 mph on Friday.

A day after Zack Wheeler criticized the Mets for handling its contract negotiations, the team's general manager said he was "surprised" and "disappointed" to hear the right-hander's comments. Wheeler signed a $ 118 million five-year deal with the Phillies in December, ending his eight-year tenure with their rival in East NL.

"I have a feeling that this organization has helped him from top to bottom to give him the opportunity to succeed in the top league," said Van Wagenen. “Our health and performance department, our coaches, have all contributed and helped him convert two good halves into $ 118 million in the past five years. I am proud of what our group was able to help him with.

"I'm glad that he was rewarded for it. Players deserve to be rewarded for performing well, but most of all, I love the pitching staff we have. "

Wheeler told Post Post Greg Joyce the day before that he had heard "grilling" from the Mets after returning to them with the Phillies' offer. The jug indicated that he was not surprised.

"Because it's them," said Wheeler. "So they roll."

Van Wagenen said he spoke to Wheeler's agents in the off-season, including the week until the pitcher signed with the Phillies, and discussed the parameters the Mets were willing to spend on a new contract for Wheeler.

"We were interested in bringing him back and communicated this," said Van Wagenen. "Not at this contract level."

Wheeler had a strong second half in the 2018 and 19 seasons after struggling with injuries early in his career that largely prevented him from realizing his potential.

"I think that made him the contract he got," said Van Wagenen, referring to Wheeler's positions in seasons 18 and 19. "Zack is a good pitcher. So we wanted to sign it again. It is only the contract and the market that he enjoyed that went beyond our appetite. "