Should the Philadelphia Phillies trade Aaron Nola this offseason?
While Wheeler had one of the best seasons of any MLB pitcher, Nola was a study in endless frustration. His season totals were a 4.63 ERA over 32 starts, with 223 strikeouts over 180 2/3 innings. It was his worst season by ERA since 2016 and the second-worst mark of his career.
Nola’s inability to pitch deep into games meant that he missed the 200 inning mark for the first time since 2017 (aside from the shortened 2020). He did not reach six full innings in 18 of 32 starts, and only pitched seven innings or more five times all year. That shortcoming coupled with a struggling bullpen led to the Phillies going 15-17 in Nola’s games.
Heading into his age-29 season, the homegrown starter is a bit of a question mark for the Phillies. His four-year deal has a club option for 2023, but the Phillies could trade him ahead of this season or sometime before next year’s trade deadline.
So, the Phillies have to gamble now: do they trade Nola for a moderate-size return on the premise that he could have a bounce-back year in 2022? Or, do they keep him, hoping he bounces back in Philly, though his struggles could continue into next season, lowering his value further?
Dombrowski is known for prioritizing big pitching. He gave David Price the most lucrative contract in pitching history at the time and traded big to get Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale to Boston. Those decisions played a key part in championship results.
The Phillies probably won’t end up dealing Nola this offseason, but they’re almost certainly discussing it.