Phillies

Phillies

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 03: Corbin Burnes #39 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after recording a strikeout in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game One of the Wild Card Series at American Family Field on October 03, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Phillies breaking all of our hearts and blowing it in the NLCS means we have to start thinking about the off-season far earlier than we hoped. And the biggest decision the Phillies will have to make is what to do with Aaron Nola. He is a free agent. And if you believe what Jayson Stark, Buster Olney, and other baseball insiders have said on our airwaves, he is going to get a lot of money.

Stark told us earlier this week that he does not think the Phillies will resign him. But that begs the question, who do they replace him with? The free agent market outside of Aaron Nola is not very pretty. Unless they make a splash and get Yoshinubu Yamamoto out of Japan, there are not many quality Nola replacements on the open market. Meaning they may have to go the trade route. The good news is that there are some great options in that market.

Jayson Stark even suggested as much when he joined The Best Show Ever earlier this week:

“If Nola is not back, does Dave trade for somebody like Corbin Burnes? You have a bunch of Ace-type starters who are a year away from Free Agency this winter. Somebody will get traded in that group. Dave is really good at going to get those guys.”

He gave us one of those names in Corbin Burnes. But he is not the only Ace Level pitcher set to hit the open market in 2024. The list of free agent starters next offseason is way better than this year’s class. And a lot of the time, you see guys in the last year of their deal traded, if not in the offseason then at the trade deadline. And considering those guys mostly play for small-market teams, it is easy to see some of them getting moved before the season.

So who are those names? Which guys could the Phillies look at to replace Aaron Nola if they either cannot resign him or just do not want to resign him? Let’s take a look at the Phillies options.

Here are 4 Starting Pitchers The Phillies Could trade For This Off-Season:

  • Corbin Burnes

    MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 03: Corbin Burnes #39 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game One of the Wild Card Series at American Family Field on October 03, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

    Let’s start with the guy Jayson Stark mentioned. Burnes is coming off of a season with a 3.39 ERA, and for him that is high. Before that he had 3 straight seasons with an ERA under 3. And he was the one who stole the Cy Young from Zack Wheeler in 2021.

    One knock on him is he is not a deep-into-games type of guy. He’s gotten better at that later in his career. But he has still only pitched more than 200 once in his career. So you would be going from a guy in Nola who is a lock to get to at least 200, to a guy who may max out at 190. But at least for me, I will take that trade to get a guy who you know will give you a good start more often.

    The question is would the Brewers move him? They missed the playoffs last year and won the NL Central this year just to lose in the first round. Do they want to run it back? They are not exactly known for signing big deals. They were 24th in Payroll last year. And while they are not the A’s or Pirates who refuse to spend any money, they may not be willing to pay what Burnes will eventually get on the open market.

  • Shane Bieber

    CLEVELAND, OHIO - JUNE 23: Shane Bieber #57 of the Cleveland Guardians pitches during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Progressive Field on June 23, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

    Another true top-of-the-rotation guy set to be a Free agent after next season is Shane Bieber. Bieber has quietly been one of the best starters period the past several seasons. He does not get much attention because he plays in Cleveland. But has a 3.27 ERA in his career, and the only time his ERA has ever gotten over 4 was his first season.

    He does have a slight injury history. Bieber went on the 60-Day IL last season with elbow inflammation and missed time with a shoulder injury back in 2021. So he is not as reliable to be available to pitch as Nola is. But like Burnes, he is far more reliable to be good when he does pitch than Nola is.

    Again the question becomes, will the Guardians move him? They’re one of the few teams with a smaller payroll than the Brewers. Bieber is going to get serious money when he hits free agency, and they currently don’t even have anyone making $20 million. So maybe they cut their losses before the season to get some prospects. But he could be the biggest name at the trade deadline, so the Phillies may have to blow them away if they want Bieber before the season starts.

  • Brandon Woodruff

    MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 11: Brandon Woodruff #53 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at American Family Field on September 11, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

    Burnes is not the only Brewers starter going into the last year of his deal. Woodruff is also set to hit Free Agency after 2024. And while he does not have a Cy Young like Burnes does, he has also been fantastic for the Brewers the past several years. In 7 seasons his ERA is 3.10, actually better than Burnes. And before he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, Woodruff was having the best season of his career with an ERA of 2.28.

    The fact that the Brewers have both of their aces set to hit the open market, and are a small-market team, could mean they move one, and try to keep the other. Hedge their bets so they can unload one for prospects, but also give themselves a chance to stay competitive. And if that is the case, the Phillies need to be all over whatever pitcher they try and move. Both Burnes and Woodruff are great options.

  • Tyler Glasnow

    ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 03: Tyler Glasnow #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game One of the Wild Card Series at Tropicana Field on October 03, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida.

    (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    The Rays are the kings of using young great players in their arbitration years, then selling them off to reload on more young cheap talent once they get expensive. Zach Eflin became the highest-paid player in Rays history last season, and he was still getting paid under $15 million per year. They are not going to give Glasnow what he will get on the open market.

    Glasnow has a 3.89 career ERA. But that goes down to 3.20 in his last 6 seasons with the Rays. Playing in one of the toughest divisions to pitch in, he has been incredible. The one downside is his injury history. He missed almost the first two months this season and missed nearly all of 2022. But in 11 of the 21 starts he did make, Glasnow held the opposing team to 1 run or fewer 11 times.

  • Max Fried

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 09: Max Fried #54 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning during Game Two of the Division Series at Truist Park on October 09, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.

    (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

    This is not a realistic option, but Fried is one of those Ace-level pitchers going into the final year of their deal. The Braves will not trade him, and even if they did it certainly would not be to the Phillies. But since we are listing the Aces who are going into the final year of their deals, it is worth bringing up.

  • Walker Buehler

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 24: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on May 24, 2022 in Washington, DC.

    (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

    The Dodgers are not the team to trade away good players, especially considering how poor their pitching was without Buehler last season. But he is yet another one of these Ace-level pitchers going into the final year of his deal.

  • Zack Wheeler Is Also Among The Guys Going Into The Last Year of Their Deal

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 16: Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game One of the Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 16, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    Also worth bringing up is that Zack Wheeler will also be in the last year of his deals. A lot of the Phillies’ success is built around their rotation. But that could all go away after this season if they lose Wheeler. It puts into perspective how important next season is and how things could change quickly afterward. So going all in for one of these pitchers, even if it is as a rental, may be what’s best because they have no guarantee of having good starting pitching after this year. We hope prospects like Andrew Painter and Mick Abel step up, but until they get here and do so, it is hard to bank on that.

  • Listen to or Watch  'The Best Show Ever?' Live on the 97.5 The Fanatic and on NBC Sports Philly from 2 to 6 pm Every Weekday

  • And you can listen to our full conversation with Jayson Stark below

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