Could The Phillies Really Let Aaron Nola Walk In MLB Free Agency?
One of the most debated topics for the Philadelphia Phillies offseason is what the organization should do about Free Agent Pitcher Aaron Nola. The 30-year-old pitcher has started 235 games in the last nine years for the Phillies, but will he be pitching for Philadelphia in 2024?
According to the latest report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale, other Major League Baseball General Managers believe the Phillies are going to let Aaron Nola walk in Free Agency. Here is the full explanation from the veteran MLB Reporter Nightengale:
"Phillies owner John Middleton, one of the most aggressive owners in the game, wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again and will hit the free agent market. He wouldn’t mind bringing back starter Aaron Nola, but they were four years and about $100 million apart in their negotiations last winter, and it’s highly unlikely the gap will completely close....This would leave Nola going to either St. Louis, Atlanta, Texas, or perhaps the Los Angeles Dodgers."
Aaron Nola's name has been connected to the St. Louis Cardinals before so that is not surprising, but seeing the Atlanta Braves as a potential destination for the right-handed pitcher will grind many Phillies fans.
According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman from the New York Post, Aaron Nola is expected to receive a five-year deal in Free Agency totaling between $140 Million to $175 Million. Previous reports had Nola looking for a contract worth over $200 Million and that was more than the Phillies were willing to commit to the man who has the seventh most Games Started in Franchise History.
So who could replace Aaron Nola in the Phillies Starting Rotation for the 2024 season? Well the name that USA Today's Bob Nightengale singled out is 2023 Cy Young Award Finalist Blake Snell. The Left-Handed Pitcher finished this past season with the best ERA in the National League (2.25) and the second-most Strikeouts in the NL (234).
There are concerns about Snell's inconsistency at throwing strikes after he had the most Walks in the National League in 2023 (99) and had the third most during the 2021 season (69). Unlike Nola who has started 96 games over the last three seasons, Snell has only started 83. Snell has just two years of 30 or more starts in eight MLB seasons while Nola has five years of 30 or more starts in nine MLB seasons.
According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, Blake Snell is expected to receive a five to six-year contract valued between $180 Million and $200 million. After three years of pitching in San Diego, Snell is not expected to return to the Padres as there is speculation about the organization's finances after they took out a $50 Million dollar loan to address "short-term cash flow issues".
The Phillies already have two Left-Handed Starting Pitchers who are expected to be members of their starting rotation next season:
-Ranger Suarez had a up-and-down regular season after returning from an injury but in his four postseason starts he allowed just four Earned Runs in 18.2 Innings Pitched with a .191 Batting Average Against.
-Cristopher Sanchez was a pleasant surprise for Philadelphia as he started 18 games of his 19 games pitched during the regular season with a 3.44 ERA and just 16 Walks in 99.1 Innings Pitched.
Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowksi has a long history of making big offseason moves. Before coming to Philadelphia, Dombrowski signed free agent JD Martinez to the 2018 Boston Red Sox team that went on to win the World Series. Also, after losing the 2011 ALCS, Dombrowksi's Detroit Tigers singed slugger Prince Fielder during the offseason and the 2012 Tigers returned to the World Series.