It’s almost been a month since the Phillies lost a soul-crushing game seven in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) at the Bank. Now, the Phillies and their fans turn to the offseason as they hope to get over the hump. So without wasting any more time, let’s jump into what this hectic free agency looks like.
Aaron Nola is Back
Over the past year, Aaron Nola, along with other fans, wondered about his future with the Phillies considering his contract was up. However, that can be put to rest as one of the top free agents in the MLB, and someone who’s been with Philadelphia for years, is back. He’s already one of the club’s most successful homegrown stars, coming up to the Phillies in 2015 at the age of 22.
The new, fresh, seven-year contract sets him up to spend the rest of his career in Philadelphia. He also will be getting paid $172 million with a $24 million AAV (Average Annual Value, which is used for calculating the luxury tax). What’s interesting is that the Braves, Dodgers, and another team all offered more in terms of AAV. The Braves offered six-years and $162 million with an AAV of $27 million and it wasn’t even their final offer. As for the Dodgers, this was essentially the same offer they made.
The 2014 first round-pick has turned into one of the more reliable starters, averaging 200 innings per season since the 2018 season. In the same span, he also has a 26.0 WAR, which is behind a few of the top pitchers such as Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Gerrit Cole, and Max Scherzer.
In 2023, Nola had a very underwhelming season with a 4.46 ERA, however, the year before that was one of his best. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting with a 3.25 ERA, which he will look to replicate with the Phillies going forward.
One player that might not be coming back is Rhys Hoskins, who is another Phillie who’s homegrown, coming up in 2017. A heartbreaking end for all Phillies fans, including myself, as the ACL tear back in Spring Training put an early end to Hoskins’ 2023 season.
A few weeks ago, Philadelphia executive Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Bryce Harper will continue to be the club’s first baseman going forward. With his elbow injury back in 2022, Harper hasn’t touched the outfield since. Then, he underwent Tommy John surgery in the winter and came back in May in the DH spot. That eventually led to Harper’s transition to first base, which started in July and went all the way until the end of the season.
With this new defensive transition for Harper, the Phillies might not need Hoskins anymore.
Around a week or two ago, rumors of the Phillies trading Nick Castellanos were spreading around all over the internet.
However, that was quickly shot down just a few days later, as ESPN’s Buster Olney heard from a “Phillies source” that the team isn’t going to trade Castellanos. They stated “they consider him to be an important part of the team and value his production, and have no intention of trading him”.
Although he’s loved by the city and team, that’s not to say that Castellanos is the most perfect player in the MLB. He’s absolutely incredible when he’s hot, like he was in the NLDS series against the Braves. On the other hand, when he’s cold, like when he went 1–24 in the NLCS, it can be more than brutal to watch. However, more than likely, he’ll be staying in the red pinstripes for the rest of his contract.
One of the last news/rumor that’s been going on in the Phillies offseason so far, is the Japanese 25 year-old star pitcher, Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Not only did he dominate in the World Baseball Classic, he also played for the Orix Buffaloes, which is a team in Japan’s Nippon Professional League, where he posted a 1.21 ERA in 2023. Throughout his entire career in Japan, he’s posted an amazing 70-29 record, with an ERA of 1.82 over the course of 172 games. To top it all off, he pitched a 138-pitch complete game win when the Buffaloes faced elimination in a game six.
Last Monday, Yamamoto was posted by the Buffalos, which gives him 45 days to sign with an MLB team, and is regarded as one of the top pitchers in this year’s free agency class. The Phillies are just one of the teams to have been reported to show interest in signing Yamamoto. Teams such as the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, and Red Sox are all heavily pushing to sign the young pitching phenom.
This is just the start of the long and cold offseason months in the MLB. After just a month, the Phillies offseason has been met with tons of questions that can only be answered by just watching and waiting.