1. Aaron Nola
The Philadelphia Phillies have vowed to make Aaron Nola's return a priority, but it's clear the two sides are far apart. That could change in the weeks to come, but there's no reason to believe Nola is the Phillies' only option. Philadelphia could look for cheaper — or just plain different — options elsewhere on the market, starting with the two names mentioned previously.
Nola grew up in the south, as Rosenthal notes, so he could be attracted to the Braves for that reason. The St. Louis Cardinals have been widely projected as a landing spot for Nola, but Atlanta would present a much clearer path to contention. It could also represent a path to revenge against the Phillies, who are balking at his asking price after nine years of solid service.
On the surface, Nola doesn't have the same ace stats as Gray or Snell. His 4.46 ERA and 1.151 WHIP qualify as good, not exceptional. What makes Nola stand out is his durability and his consistency. He has the occasional bout with command issues, but he has made 32 starts in each of the last three seasons. He also has a hearty helping of high-level postseason experience, most of it positive, given the Phillies' recent success on the big stage.
Nola doesn't possess elite velocity on his fastball (92.9), but he gets batters to chase at a 34.7 percent clip, which places him in the MLB's 96th percentile. His curveball baits opponents into some wacky swings and when he's right, he can pitch deep into games without sacrificing walks or explosive hits.
The benefits here are twofold. The Braves add a great No. 2 starter to their staff and the Braves take a valuable weapon away from the Phillies, who currently stand as their primary obstacle in the National League.