8 Starting Pitchers the Phillies could target in Free Agency
The Philadelphia Phillies made their first big splash of the 2023 offseason by signing shortstop Trea Turner to an 11-year, $300 million contract on Monday afternoon.
Turner’s deal averages just under $27.3 million a year, which only makes him the 17th highest-paid player per year among active players. To put that in perspective, that is less money than they just cleared by moving on from Didi Gregorius and letting Jean Segura walk in free agency.
(The Phillies cleared $32.5M with Gregorius and Segura off the books)
That is important because now, the Phillies are still $25M under the luxury tax, leaving room for the organization to make additional moves this offseason.
The Phillies exceeded the luxury tax last season for the first time in franchise history by signing Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos and are certainly poised to do so again in 2023. It’s funny how winning breaks out the wallets, isn’t it?
Now, the focus will shift over to the starting rotation and adding more bullpen arms.
Sure, you hope that Andrew Painter and Griff McGarry will eventually see the major league level next season, but with the departures of Zach Eflin and Kyle Gibson, and Noah Syndergaard still sitting in free agency, it’s almost certain that Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies will target a few rotation arms, followed by filling out the bullpen with depth pieces behind Seranthony, Jose Alvarado, and Connor Brogdon.
Top Remaining Free Agent Pitchers
1. Carlos Rodon
The best starting pitcher still available in Free Agency by a wide margin is Carlos Rodon. Rodon has really settled in over the last two years, throwing a sub-3 ERA after five straight years of a 4+ ERA in the majors. Rodon threw 178 innings in 2022, striking out 237 batters while walking just 52. He tallied an ERA+ of 140, along with a 1.028 WHIP.
Going after Rodon is the dream right now, considering the move would put a second dominant lefty arm in the Phillies rotation along with Ranger Suarez. The Phillies would fill out a R/L/R/L rotation and would have one of the nastiest Top 4s in all of baseball.
The question with Rodon, along with many of these pitchers, is if Dombrowski is truly looking for another top guy or more of a 4-5 filler behind the Phillies’ current Top 3, Wheeler, Nola, and Suarez. Rodon did reject his qualifying offer from the SF Giants and previously opted out of a $22.5M option for 2023, so expect him to look for $25-30M AAV at the least.
2. Chris Bassitt
Chris Bassitt was one of three Mets (Jacob deGron, Brandon Nimmo) to decline the $19.5M qualifying offer and will elect free agency to join his third team in three years. Bassitt tallied a 3.45 ERA in 30 starts this past season, totaling 181.2 innings in that time. He allowed 159 hits and just 0.9 HRs per 9 innings while striking out 167 with an ERA+ of 113. Bassitt has posted a sub-4 ERA over the last five years.
The market for Bassitt is interesting, as the pitcher is reportedly looking for “at least” a four-year contract. He could return to the Mets, but Bassitt is expected to get some pretty high interest from multiple teams over the next few days at Winter Meetings.
3. Sean Manaea
Sean Manaea has hit the free agent market after being dealt to the San Diego Padres ahead of the 2022 season. Manaea didn’t have the best year of his career but still totaled 158 innings on the season, logging a 4.96 ERA in 28 starts.
Manaea allowed 155 hits and 87 earned runs in 2022. He totaled 156 Ks with an ERA+ of 75, along with a 1.297 WHIP and 1.7 HR9.
4. Nathan Eovaldi
Nathan Eovaldi is one of two big names that are bound to leave Boston for a new start. Eovaldi declined the qualifying offer and will look to receive a multi-year deal around the league.
Eovaldi, 32, is heading into his 12th season in the league. He tallied a 3.87 ERA in 109 innings in 2022 with 103 strikeouts and an ERA+ of 109. Eovaldi’s best season came in 2021 when he threw 182 innings and finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting.
5. Corey Kluber
Corey Kluber enters his 13th season in the league looking for a new team after spending one year in Tampa Bay on an $8M deal.
Kluber isn’t the pitcher he once was from 2014-2018, winning 2 Cy Youngs and 3 All-Star Game nominations, but Kluber can still throw some valuable innings as a late-rotation arm. He threw 164 innings for the Rays in 2022, logging a 4.39 ERA and 139 strikeouts, along with a 1.2 BB9 ratio.
6. Jameson Taillon
Jameson Taillon has been a standout name so far this offseason, as the Phillies were linked to the starter on Monday morning.
Taillon has thrown six years in the majors, most recently spending two years in the Bronx with the New York Yankees. Taillon tallied a 4.08 ERA in two seasons with the Yankees, with a 3.91 in 2022. He threw 177.1 innings while striking out 151 batters, holding a 7.7 SO9 ratio.
7. Michael Wacha
Wacha, 31, is heading into his 11th season, spending the last four with four different teams, most recently the Red Sox.
Wacha threw a 3.32 ERA in 23 starts in 2022, totaling 127.1 innings and 104 strikeouts. The Red Sox signed Wacha prior to last year on a $7M deal, but I’d expect Wacha to get slightly higher than that after a good 2022 season.
8. Taijuan Walker
Taijuan Walker has spent the last two seasons with the Mets, with 2022 being a way better year for him, lowering his ERA by a whole point between the two years.
Walker tallied a 3.49 in 2022 with 132 Ks and an ERA+ of 111 in 29 starts (157 innings).