It shouldn’t be a surprise that starting pitcher Aaron Nola is expecting a big payday. After being a significant factor in helping the Philadelphia Phillies reach the World Series in 2022 and the NLCS this past season, Nola is hitting the free agency market. The 30-year-old pitcher was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft and spent nine years with the Phillies. Aaron has racked up 90 wins and over 1,500 strikeouts since his debut on July 21, 2015. His strikeout total has topped 200 five times over the past six seasons. Many teams across the league are salivating for a quality starting pitcher. While the Phillies hope to retain Nola, there’s a chance he could leave a big hole in Philly’s pitching rotation if he signs elsewhere. Here are three teams that have a notable chance of signing Aaron Nola.
St. Louis Cardinals
It’s safe to say the St. Louis Cardinals were severely disappointing last season. The Cardinals’ pitching staff averaged an ERA of around five and was almost dead last in strikeout rate. They desperately need to find a pitcher that can hold it down during every start. It’s a good time to spend in St. Louis. It’s not known that this team makes many big-money free-agent signings. The last huge signing St. Louis had was back in 2010 when they signed Matt Holliday for 120 million dollars. Nolan Arenado and Willson Contreras are the only Cardinals booked beyond 2025.
While the Cardinals did lose 91 games this past season, that shouldn’t be too concerning for Nola. St. Louis still has their star duo in Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, along with many young building blocks that could presumably have a breakout year, like sophomore right fielder Jordan Walker. Aaron Nola could be the first of many cornerstone pieces the Cardinals try to acquire this offseason.
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees will likely lose pitchers Luis Severino and Frankie Montas in free agency. This leaves many questionable leaks in the Bronx Bombers pitching rotation. They also urge for a second reliable starter behind ace Gerrit Cole. New York signed Carlos Rodón last offseason; he hasn’t pitched since June 13th, as he’s suffered multiple injuries. Nestor Cortes struggled all season and is now on the IL with a rotator cuff strain. There is no escape from the drama, as Domingo German was suspended for ten games in April.
Yes, this team needs more consistent hitters around star Aaron Judge. They also miss a pitcher who can lead the charge on the mound when the offense is struggling. The slow start in 2023 killed the Yankees’ momentum at times, but alongside Cole and Rodón, New York could have the strongest pitching trio in the majors next season. New York is looking to break their 13-year AL Pennant drought this season, and I would expect nothing less for the Yankees to push the envelope when it comes to signing Aaron Nola.
Aaron Nola to the Texas Rangers?
Over the past few seasons, it’s been known that the Texas Rangers are one of the few teams willing to spend whatever it takes to get the best out of their players. There would be no reason to abandon this same strategy, especially with them winning their first franchise championship this past season. While bringing back Jordan Montgomery makes the most sense for the Rangers, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Nola at least negotiate with the Rangers. With 1,065 1/3 innings pitched since 2018, Nola ranks second in the majors.
Texas’ manager Bruce Bochy would love to bring a stable pitcher like Aaron in. It would be coincidental if Nola decides to sign with the Rangers. In 2018, Nola put up a record of 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA through 212 innings pitched. He was third in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award race that season behind Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom; both are now in a Rangers uniform. Scherzer remains effective on the mound but has struggled with various injuries over the past few seasons. deGrom is under contract till the 2027 season. Jacob hasn’t made 30 or more starts on the mound since the 2019 season. It would only make sense for the Texas Rangers to try and make their move on Aaron Nola.
Main Photo Credits: Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK