The re-signing of Aaron Nola represents one of the Philadelphia Phillies' main signings that needed to be addressed this offseason. After the announcement that they agreed with Nola on a seven-year, $172 million contract on Nov. 19, Philadelphia now has one of its starters secured for the next several years.
What other moves could Dave Dombrowski make to improve the roster moving forward? During the Nov. 20 press conference announcing the Nola re-signing, the Phillies president of baseball operations commented on what other improvements Philadelphia could make during the offseason:
"I think the way we will now look at it is we're in a position where we can evaluate a lot of different things that could make our club better. We don't really have a glaring spot that we needed to fill like we needed a starting pitcher. We're pretty deep in our bullpen, but of course you could always be better. Our position players, our infield is basically set. Outfield, we have a little bit of a question. We don't really have a glaring need but we will continue to look to see how we can get better."
Dombrowski elaborated on whether the Phillies' rotation is set for the 2024 season following the Nola re-signing:
"Yes, I do. We have five starters that we like. I think when you look at some of the statistical models, we had the best WAR of our group of any team in Major League Baseball. So we like our five starters. We look like we are set."
From gauging Dowbrowski's comments, it appears Philadelphia will not make any more significant additions at starting pitcher. While they are expected to be interested in adding international free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto, they will not go out of their way to further pursue adding him if both sides cannot agree on the financials, according to a tweet from Phillies beat writer Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Anything is possible from Dombrowski and owner John Middleton, but it would appear unlikely for Yamamoto to ultimately sign with the Phillies. Philadelphia may offer an extension to starter Zack Wheeler, whose contract expires following the 2024 season. However, the ace may wait until next offseason to decide his future.
What about adding to the bullpen or the outfield this offseason?
Considering how erratic free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel was for the Phillies during the postseason, they could look to add to the bullpen this winter. Josh Hader, the top closer on the market, is rumored to be a potential fit for Philadelphia. However, the club doesn't appear to be a serious contender to sign the 29-year-old left-hander, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The Phillies could consider adding a reliever who could be used in a setup role. Some notable free agents are Jordan Hicks, Keynan Middleton, Wandy Peralta, and Hector Neris. Mark Feinsand, an insider for MLB.com, believes Hicks would be a good fit for Philadelphia. He writes about how the reliever's fastball averaged 100.1 mph in 2023, and Hicks ranked in the top 20 percent in ground ball rate, average exit velocity, and strikeout percentage.
In the outfield, Dombrowski didn't guarantee Johan Rojas a starting position on the 2024 Opening Day roster following the youngster's struggles at the plate in the postseason. The 23-year-old center fielder had a .093/.114/.163 slash line in 43 at-bats. Considering the possibility of him not beginning the year with the Phillies and left fielder Kyle Schwarber presumably transitioning more to the club's designated hitter, the team could add another outfielder for depth.
Some free agent outfielders that would fit the role on one-year deals are Jason Heyward, Aaron Hicks, Tommy Pham, Jake Marisnick, Randal Grichuk, and Wil Myers. Names such as Cody Bellinger, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez don't fit the Phillies' need at the position.
Brandon Marsh will start in left or center field, and right fielder Nick Castellanos will likely not be going elsewhere despite previous rumors to the contrary. Considering Rojas will eventually be their third outfielder at the start of or during 2024, the club most likely won't sign one of the top free agent outfielders during the winter.
The Phillies aren't considered to make any more notable signings worthy of capturing headlines; there's a good chance the Nola re-signing ends up being their top addition. There will be no blockbuster Shohei Ohtani, Yamamoto, or Hader signing in free agency or trade for Mike Trout or Juan Soto. An extension for Wheeler and/or Bryce Harper remains more of a possibility at this point.