Barring any unforeseen transactions, it appears the Phillies will have Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler as their one-two punch atop of their rotation for the 2nd consecutive season. In 2020, the duo failed to disappoint. Aaron Nola had another strong season as the team’s ace, and Zack Wheeler’s first year with the team was a success. Now, who will follow these two in the rotation is still up for discussion.
Zach Eflin, who made a ton of strides to improve his game last season, is a clear front runner to grab one of the final three spots. One would like to think Spencer Howard could be part of the 2021 rotation as well. The right-hander with electric stuff debuted with the team this past summer and is viewed to be a part of the club’s long term plans. After that, the team does not appear to have many viable options.
Jake Arrieta’s huge 3-year deal came to an end at seasons close, and he is likely to pitch elsewhere in 2021. Nick Pivetta, who has been a candidate to pitch in the rotation in years past, was dealt to Boston and is no longer in the organization. Beyond that, your best bets are looking like Vince Velasquez and Adonis Medina. Although Medina has shown some flashes in the past that have made him an intriguing prospect, I feel he could benefit from some more time in the minor leagues.
With this in mind, the team may be better off looking elsewhere to get some starting pitching help, whether that would be via trade or free agency. Today, we’re going to be looking at 10 Free Agent starters the Phillies should consider this winter, not named Trevor Bauer.
Although someone like Bauer could be a real difference-maker, the guys I present to you today would cost much less, and would help to bolster the pitching staff nonetheless. Let’s get started.
The journeyman lefty spent last summer with Milwaukee and helped them get back to the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive calendar year. Since making his MLB debut back in 2009, He has been a solid backend starter for numerous clubs, 6 to be exact, in both the American and National Leagues. Anderson will turn 33 next February and could serve as a mentor of sorts for a team that will employ its 4th different Pitching Coach in 4 seasons.
Once a prospect in the Phillies’ minor league system, Gonzalez has put together quite a solid major league career. The southpaw has experience pitching within the NL East with the Nationals, and postseason experience recently with the Brewers. His stuff is not going to blow anyone away, however, he could prove to be a modest upgrade for a team that lacks left-handed pitching depth.
You know I had to include him on this list. Hamels made just 1 start in 2020 due to injury and could be looking to rebuild his value on a deal much smaller than the one he signed last winter. It is safe to say the 08’ World Series MVP will not be getting $18 million in free agency this time around, and the idea of bringing him back on a minor league deal is at least considering.
Happ won a ring here back way back in 2008 and was dealt away in a trade that netted Roy Oswalt back in 2010. Over the past decade, the southpaw has put forth a great deal of effort to fine-tune his game and remain a big-league starter. His best days are most likely behind him, however, a reunion could make sense for both parties.
The more film I watch of Rich Hill on the mound, the more he reminds me of Jamie Moyer, especially during the later part of his career. Hill is a perfect example that age is just a number. He will be 41 on Opening Day, and a handful of teams have already shown interest in his services. I feel the like Phillies should be one of them.
Kluber, or as I like to say, “Klubot”, is just a few years removed from being a front line starter on a championship-contending team. I thought a change of scenery would have done him well in Texas if it weren’t for a campaign-ending injury that cost him the season. He has a very strong track record and could be a bounce-back candidate assuming he stays healthy. Regardless of where Kluber signs, I expect him to be back in 2021.
Leake was one of the first players to opt-out of the shortened 2020 campaign, and the D-Backs really missed his presence on the mound, and in the clubhouse. The veteran excels at generating weak contact off the bat, which is important as he only tops out in the low to mid 90’s, and that’s on a good day. I feel he could be a nice addition to our staff, even if it is just for one season.
Before you click off the article or ask “Why?”, Nova makes an intriguing case to be an under the radar type signing. His first manager in the big leagues was Joe Girardi with the Yankees, so right of the bat, there is some familiarity between the two. If nothing else, he could be an innings eater for a team that dreads turning the ball over to their bullpen, and who could blame them?
Tanaka might be a bit pricey compared to others on this list, but there is some validity behind that. Since coming over from Japan in 2014, Tanaka has been a mainstay in the Yankee rotation, and he is coming off another solid season. One could make the argument in 2020, he was their best starter besides Gerrit Cole. A 1-2-3 punch of Nola-Wheeler-Tanaka heading into next season could be a force to reckon with.
Wood pitched during the World Series clincher for Los Angeles and has spent the majority of the past 6 seasons in Dodger Blue. It looks like injuries are thankfully an issue of the past, although are still worth taking into consideration. He has a good thing going with Dave Roberts and company, but if he were to look elsewhere, the lefthander would slot nicely into the Phillies rotation.