Aaron Nola ($16M): B. Aaron Nola represents the Phillies hardest offseason decision as his contract is expiring. The right-hander had neither his best nor worst season until the end, when he dialed up some great performances beginning September 15 against the Cardinals. Unfortunately, that came to a screeching halt in his last appearance against the Diamondbacks in Game 6 of the NLCS when he gave up four earned runs in 4.1 innings.
Still, Nola is one of baseball’s most durable starters, throwing more than 180 innings in five of his nine years thus far, and posting a winning record by 19 games with Phillies teams that were mediocre or worse in his first seven years. His career WHIP is 1.129, and he has finished in the top seven for Cy Young voting three times. A tough decision, indeed.
Ranger Suarez ($2.9M+): B-. Arbitration eligible in ’24, Suarez represents another sticky matter for Phillies management. A winning and generally effective left-handed starter, he wasn’t actually ready to start a game until May 13 this season. He eventually started 22 games, but won only four. A six-earned-run mess on September 27 against the Pirates pushed his ERA for the season over 4.00. In the NLCS, he might have been 1-0, or 2-0, instead of 1-1, if the Phillies had managed to score three or four runs, respectively, before the he was removed in the fifth inning of Game 7.
Taijuan Walker ($18M): C+. Walker had something of a fluke season, posting a 4.38 ERA in 31 starts, but benefiting from the Phillies offense. He won 15, lost six, but wasn’t trusted enough by the team to even appear in postseason games. Although 15 wins are evidence of at least some toughness, Philly seems to have overpaid for him.
Cristopher Sanchez ($725K/$510.6K+): B. Sanchez is on the other side of a coin with Walker, going 3-5 despite a very respectable 3.44 ERA and 1.047 WHIP. He started 18 of his 19 games, but the Phillies didn’t seem to trust the left-hander as they might have if Walker weren’t so expensive. Or maybe he was handled perfectly since his FIP was 55 points higher than his ERA.
Matt Strahm ($7.5M): A. This versatile starter/reliever started 10 of his 56 game appearances this season, and for his cost, which will be the same next season, he’ll end up as one of Dave Dombrowski’s best decisions if he can duplicate his ’23 numbers (9-5, 3.29 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 1.015 WHIP) in his age-32 campaign.
Michael Lorenzen ($8.5M/$2.7M+): C+. What do you say about trade acquisition who throws a no-hitter in his second game, then gives up six, four, three, six, four, and four earned runs in his next six appearances (five starts)? “Only in Philadelphia”? Sounds about right.
On to the relievers and backup players…