3 Phillies starting pitcher trade options if Aaron Nola leaves, and 1 starter to avoid

How would the potentially available starters on the market fit in Philadelphia? Who should the Phillies stay away from?
Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers could be a trade target for the Philadelphia Phillies
Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers could be a trade target for the Philadelphia Phillies / Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
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Corbin Burnes, MLW

Corbin Burnes, the Milwaukee Brewers ace, has been unofficially on the trade block in many eyes since the Brewers botched his arbitration process last season. If you recall, Burnes was not a happy camper after the arbiter sided with the team, all so they could save a whopping $740,000.

Now, with a big bump in arbitration salary in 2024, projected to hit $15.1 million by MLB Trade Rumors, followed by free agency pending in 2024, the fiscally frugal Brewers might be looking to unload the star starter.

Would the Phillies take Burnes in their rotation? Certainly. Any team would.

The 29-year-old right-hander has put together an impressive resume in his six major league seasons with the Brewers. He has a 33-21 record, a 2.94 ERA, and a 0.99 WHIP in his three full seasons since the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. Over that span, he has a 30.3 percent strikeout rate and a 6.7 percent walk rate for a 23.5 percent K-BB rate — the league average K-BB rate this season among qualified starters was 14.2 percent.

He has been an All-Star in all three seasons, won the NL Cy Young in 2021, and finished seventh in Cy Young voting last year.

Will the Phillies want to pay the price for one year of a top-of-the-line starter like Burnes? Maybe, maybe not. They'll be in the same position at the end of 2024 as they are with Aaron Nola right now, with Burnes commanding a hefty free-agent contract after next season.

However, the case for bringing Burnes to Philadelphia is buoyed by where this team is in its competitive cycle. The window to win a World Series isn't going to last forever. The core is on the cusp of suddenly being too old in a year or two. Made up of 30-plus veterans like Zack Wheeler (33), Bryce Harper (31), Trea Turner (30), J.T. Realmuto (32), Kyle Schwarber (30), and Nick Castellanos (31), the time to push the chips in is now.

Pairing Burnes with Zack Wheeler would give the Phillies a monstrous 1-2 punch. Having two studs at the top of your rotation can go a long way, as we saw this past postseason.