The Philadelphia Phillies made the first big move of the offseason over the weekend, coming to terms with Aaron Nola on a seven-year, $172 million deal. Putting Nola back in the Phillies rotation is a strong start toward Philadelphia not only challenging the Atlanta Braves for supremacy in the National League East but also another Red October run.
While the Nola news had plenty of Phillies fans smiling on a Sunday, what if the Phillies were to add even more to the rotation, setting up an even stronger pitching core? Let's dive into the dream world and see what that might look like inside Citizens Bank Park.
Well, let's start with reality first and dive into the back end of the rotation. Taijuan Walker made 31 starts for the Phillies in 2023 and is with the club through the 2026 campaign on a four-year, $72 million deal. With the "dream rotation," Walker would settle into the number five spot quite well.
Certainly, Phillies fans would love to see him improve on a 4.38 ERA/4.53 FIP/1.309 WHIP that he put together in 172.2 innings last season, but the fact that Walker was dependable and ate up those innings during the regular season is a fact not to be overlooked.
Slot him in fifth in this rotation and let him eat innings while the four pitchers ahead of him in this scenario bring the star power.
Hey, we said "dream rotation," right? While it may be difficult in real life for the Phillies to make a deal that would entice the Milwaukee Brewers to part with Burnes, it has been reported that the Brewers would potentially be willing to part ways with the former Cy Young Award winner if they can "get an enticing package of pitching prospects in return." In that same article, Jim Bowden of The Athletic wrote that the Phillies are among the teams that, "would love to land Burnes even though they'd control him for only one year."
Sure, Burnes is scheduled to hit free agency in 2025, so this would be a short-term dream ... but imagine the Phillies pushing all of their chips into the middle of the NL East table by swinging a deal for Burnes. It would absolutely put the division and the rest of baseball on notice.
We leave the dream sequence to hop back into reality here with Nola. There may be signs that his effectiveness may not match the amount of money the Phillies shelled out to keep him, but Philadelphia also couldn't let him walk away to a team like the Braves or St. Louis Cardinals. Keeping him in-house was a wise move, even if the return on investment may decline as Nola ages.
But again, we're focusing on 2024 in this article and having Nola in the middle of this potentially stacked rotation would be something to behold. Manager Rob Thomson could even flip him with Burnes if he wanted in this fantasy world ... so imagine paying that much money for a number-four starter. That's how stacked this rotation could truly be.
Wheeler has been viewed as the ace of this rotation for some time, and he's been not only statistically solid in his four years with the Phillies (3.06 ERA/2.90 FIP/1.055 WHIP in 629.1 innings), but he has also been durable during that time as well, making 90 starts over the last three seasons.
The 33-year-old right-hander is entering the final year of a five-year, $118 million contract, so the Phillies will have a decision to make next offseason with Wheeler just as they did this year with Nola. However, if we're talking about just 2024, this is another reason why the Phillies would want to go all in with a dream rotation for the upcoming season. And, if Philadelphia wasn't interested in paying what it may take to keep Wheeler past 2024, well, having a top-of-the-line arm like Burnes (if they could sign him to an extension after the trade) or the new pitcher below as a replacement for 2025 and beyond wouldn't be so bad.
Remember, we're talking about a dream rotation, and landing the Japanese ace while keeping teams like the Braves, Cardinals and New York Mets from obtaining him would be perfect for Philadelphia all the way around.
There have been plenty of rumors saying that Yamamoto may have a "preference" for playing on the West Coast, but Jon Heyman of The New York Post wrote that both the Yankees and Mets are not putting much weight behind those reports. If the Yankees and Mets are keeping their pursuit of Yamamoto alive, why shouldn't Dave Dombrowski push for Philadelphia to be included in the mix as well? Sure, salary constraints (Yamamoto will likely land a deal for more than $200 million), but wouldn't he look good in a Phillies throwback uniform?
Until Yamamoto is signed, let the dream rotation for the Phillies continue to be a possibility.2023-11-20T20:25:02Z dg43tfdfdgfd