This is the big one. In an ideal world, the Phillies find a way to bring Aaron Nola back on terms that work for both the player and the team. They need him as their number two-starter behind Zack Wheeler for 2024, but they also need him with Wheeler hitting free agency after the 2024 season.
While Nola returning would be nice, this free agency has several other frontline starters the Phillies can pursue like Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery, to name a few. Bringing Nola back isn't the end-all-be-all, and that's why I believe he's going to walk.
The Phillies and Nola tried to connect on a contract extension but never got close. After departing to an ovation in what could be his last start as a Phillie, it feels like Nola's time here is up.
One team desperate for starting pitching that Nola has been linked with is the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have said they're ready to spend, and there's a very solid chance they will overpay for Nola. The 30-year-old will get more years and dollars than the Phillies will be comfortable paying. At least they can get a draft pick in exchange.
Prediction: Cardinals - Seven years, $175 million