Most fans would agree Aaron Nola would be a great signing for any contending team looking to improve their starting rotation. He's a crafty pitcher who doesn't rely on velocity, has enough postseason experience to warrant a large investment, and is almost always healthy. What's not to like? Los Angeles Dodgers fans have certainly been interested leading up to the start of the offseason.
Well, the longtime Philadelphia Phillies right-hander is set for free agency and the latest MLB rumors suggest he won't be staying in the City of Brotherly Love. Why is that? Doesn't Dave Dombrowski spend, spend, spend and throw caution to the wind on that front?
Yes, but it's quite possible even he has his limits. Philly reporters are claiming Nola is seeking a seven-year deal that will pay him $30 million per. That's a $210 million contract for a guy entering his age-31 season and six straight campaigns of maxing out his arm.
Again, that latter tidbit is without a doubt a positive, but there's also the mileage concern. $30 million a year through Nola's age-37 season when he has a career 3.72 ERA and 1.13 WHIP after he just came off a contract year where he logged 32 starts and finished with a 4.46 ERA and 4.03 FIP?
OK, fine. Easy enough. If that's the price, the Dodgers can shift their focus elsewhere, right? Well, yes. But also, wouldn't that massively drive up the prices on guys like Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Blake Snell, both of whom had far better contract years than Nola?
Aaron Nola contract prediction could spell doom for Dodgers offseason
The Dodgers have yet to invest more than $50 million guaranteed in a single free agent pitcher under Andrew Friedman with the exception of Trevor Bauer. Think about that. Now with Nola rumored to be seeking $200 million, that means we can kiss the early Snell contract prediction goodbye, and we can probably up the price for Yamamoto, who was already going to cost that much.
And the problem for LA is that there's nowhere to go. Clayton Kershaw, even if he returns, won't be ready until midseason after undergoing shoulder surgery. Julio Urías is gone. Tony Gonsolin is out for 2024. Even if Dustin May returns next year, he should probably be moved to the bullpen since he can't handle the workload of a starter. Lance Lynn could return, but his option was declined and he can't be viewed as a true top-end starter.
That leaves the Dodgers with ... Bobby Miller. And that's it. Because you simply can't count Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Emmet Sheehan and Gavin Stone as reliable options just yet, even though Pepiot and Sheehan showed some promise in limited action this past season.
Former MLB GM Jim Bowden of The Athletic previously predicted the Dodgers would sign Nola to a five-year, $125 million contract. He's the one who also predicted Snell would land a $122 million contract over the same number of years. So much for that.
If we're to believe this recent buzz out of Philly, it's going to be the truest version of the Wild Wild West in free agency this year, and the Dodgers will have no choice but to spend outside their comfort zone. ... or, of course, not be very good in 2024.