With MLB free agency just hours from opening, word around the water cooler is that the Philadelphia Phillies plan to pursue a Cy Young Award winner on the open market.
That is assuming, of course, that their own free-agent pitcher, Aaron Nola, plans on leaving Philadelphia in search of greener grass elsewhere. And from the sounds of it, that's what will happen, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
We know by now that the Phillies front office, specifically president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, would like to bring their homegrown ace back into the Phillies fold. But, despite his reassurances to the masses that he and general manager Sam Fuld will try their darndest to re-sign Nola, the writing appears to be on the wall.
Nola and the team were far apart in previous negotiations, "... four years and about $100 million apart ...," per Nightengale, who thinks "... it’s highly unlikely the gap will completely close."
So who will the Phillies have their sights set on when the proverbial opening bell sounds at 5 p.m. ET on Monday?
There has been plenty of speculation, rumors, and predictions made about who Dombrowski and Fuld will target on the free agent market, which pitchers will be a good fit in Philly, and even which pitchers they can look for in trade if the free agent route doesn't pan out.
Which free agent pitcher will the Phillies chase?
Nightengale says there's one name he has reportedly heard talked about from within the general manager fraternity.
According to the MLB Insider, "GMs believe that the Phillies will let Nola walk, and will turn their attention to Blake Snell, who’s about to win his second Cy Young award."
Snell, who has spent the last three seasons in San Diego, is coming off a 14-9 season with the underachieving Padres. He had a major-league best 2.25 ERA and 182 ERA+ despite issuing the most free passes with 99. The left-hander racked up 234 strikeouts in 180 innings and finished with a 1.19 WHIP.
Snell, who previously won the AL Cy Young with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018, looks to be a favorite to take home the NL trophy this season. He would be a considerable addition to the Phillies rotation and a fantastic replacement for Nola. Paired up with Zack Wheeler, the 30-year-old Snell would give the Fightins a fearsome 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.
Only time will tell if the Phillies can successfully reign Snell in and bring him to Philadelphia, but we should start to get a clearer picture very, very soon.