Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola figures to be one of the hottest commodities in free agency this offseason. USA Today insider Bob Nightengale recently reported that the Phillies weren't close to an extension with the 30-year-old starter last offseason as Nola eyed something in the range of eight years, $200 million while Phladelphia only offered something lasting four or five years.
Ostensibly, Nola bet on himself in a contract year. In the regular season, though, that decision looked a tad questionable as Nola posted a 4.46 ERA (third-highest of his career) and 1.15 WHIP while also allowing a career-high 32 home runs.
But if the regular season lost Aaron Nola any money, he's making it back in the postseason.
In two starts over the Wild Card and NLDS against the Marlins and Braves, Nola pitched 12.2 innings, giving up just nine hits, two walks, and two eard runs while striking out 12. But he saved his best for Game 2 of the NLCS against the Diamondbacks, completely quieting the Arizona lineup. All told, he gave up just three hits, no runs, and no walks over 6.0 innings with seven strikeouts. Put simply, he was magnificent.
Nola recently told the media that he would love to stay with the Phillies, the team that he's spent his entire MLB career with. However, if they low-ball him again with an offer, or if another team makes an offer he can't refuse, it's not out of the question still that he could depart Philadelphia. And these five teams should be willing to spend the big bucks to make that happen in free agency.
5. New York Yankees
It's no secret that the New York Yankees will be keenly interested in upgrading their rotation this offseason. They attempted to supplement the group headlined by Cy Young frontrunner Gerrit Cole over the past year and a half by trading for Frankie Montas in 2022 and then signing Carlos Rodon last offseason.
Montas never took the mound due to injury in the 2023 season, though, and is now scheduled to hit free agency himself. Rodon, meanwhile, also struggled to stay healthy throughout the year. Even when he was able to pitch, though, he put forth one of the worst seasons of his otherwise studly career.
Rodon will likely get another crack at things in 2024, which would put the Yankees rotation in a situation where they have Cole, Rodon, Nestor Cortes and possibly Clarke Schmidt in the rotation. That still leaves a pretty dire need for an upper-echelon starter to fill out the rest of this group, if not two.
Many Yankees fans have expressed an earnest desire to add another lefty to the rotation in free agency, something that Nola obviously wouldn't do. However, if Brian Cashman could simply add a player of Nola's caliber, fans might care much less about which arm he uses while on the mound.
What's clear is that the Yankees need something to move the needle after a wholly disappointing 2023 campaign and landing Nola could very well play a part in that.