Phillies’ first move of the offseason has already been decided for them
Will the Philadelphia Phillies pick up Aaron Nola’s club option for 2023?
Aaron Nola is having a stellar season.
He should get some Cy Young votes.
That the Philadelphia Phillies‘ marquee starting pitcher wasn’t an All-Star this week is as outrageous as any of the many snubs his rotation-mate Zack Wheeler has endured over the last year.
Nola leads MLB with an 8.56 SO/W rate and 19 starts. Across those games, he’s posted a 3.13 ERA. His 1.1 walks/nine also leads the National League. Among all NL pitchers, he’s fifth in FIP, third in WAR, fourth in WHIP, and second in innings pitched and strikeouts. Halfway through the season, he’s made four shutout starts, matching his total at the end of 2021. He’s already made more starts of 8+ innings than he did all last year.
Just in time for his team to pick up the club option for 2023, maybe even negotiate an extension.
It’s a stunning 180 from his struggles last season when he rarely went deep into games and put up some of the worst numbers of his career. Coming into the season, his name popped up in trade rumors. Free agency felt like an inevitability if he repeated last year’s performance. Instead, he’s been one of the best in the game, helping his team hold a tie for the third NL Wild Card spot at the halfway point in the season.
Due to their midsummer success, the Phillies are expected to be buyers at next month’s trade deadline, and could very well pursue more starting pitching to fill Zach Eflin’s spot in the rotation as he continues to be beset by injuries. He’ll be a free agent this winter, as will rotation-mate Kyle Gibson, meaning the Phillies have short- and long-term spots to fill.
Out from under the weight of several suboptimal contracts, the Phillies have the potential to be even better than they are right now. They can build a contender without exceeding the luxury tax threshold, as they did this year for the first time in franchise history.
If Nola’s second half is as good as his first, picking up his option is a no-brainer. He’s been here his entire career, from his first-round selection to his big-league days. Seeing him in a rival uniform shouldn’t happen.
The Phillies have a lot of money coming off the books at the end of this season, and much of it will be a relief. Not Nola.