“Free agent” is a word that sends shivers down the spines of Philadelphia Phillies fans all over the globe. While the 2023 season ended in a way that most would rather not talk about, the offseason gives a chance to regroup and prep for spring training.
Yet there are a few free agents that may not see the field for Philadelphia in 2024.
Pitching, for the most part, will see some of the bigger names in their sphere go, mainly Aaron Nola, Craig Kimbrel, and Michael Lorenzen. First baseman Rhys Hoskins has likely played his last game in a Phillies uniform. Losing both Nola and Hoskins would be huge blows. Aaron’s departure would drastically change the landscape of the starting rotation.
But should all these players go to new homes, where will they find themselves? Spring Training is only 136 days away, and there are some teams in desperate need of their strengths.
Aaron Nola, RHP
Losing right-hander Aaron Nola would be a huge devastation to the Phillies’ rotation.
Ideally, in a perfect world, Nola would agree to the qualifying offer from Philadelphia, but that is not guaranteed. If he moves on from the City of Brotherly Love, there are going to be a lot of teams who will benefit from his experience. Nola was 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA last season with 202 strikeouts. During his nine-year career, he’s reached the 200-strikeout plateau five times. In the postseason, Nola is 5-3 with a 3.70 ERA and 50 strikeouts.
Teams like the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets would hugely benefit from adding to their rotation. There’s a minimal chance Aaron Nola will go to the NL East rival, but their starting rotation is in rough shape after trading Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. They need a frontline starter in front of Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, Tylor Megill, and David Peterson.
The Los Angeles Dodgers need a frontline starter even if they sign Shohei Ohtani and re-sign Clayton Kershaw. Nola could be the right fit, but if they’re spending Ohtani money, they might not have the coins for Nola.
Rhys Hoskins, First Baseman
One man who did not get a qualifying offer from the Phillies is first baseman Rhys Hoskins.
The Phillies will have to decide who will play at first, and it will likely not be the Hoskins dream most fans would prefer to happen. It’s so early in the offseason that there isn’t a plan for how Hoskins could fit onto their 2024 roster with the uncertainty of Bryce Harper’s short-term future defensively. If first base is going to be Harper’s position next season, there isn’t much room for Hoskins. Yes, he did miss the season due to a torn ACL, but he’s a consistent player in the squad’s lineup.
If you’re the Milwaukee Brewers, eyeing Hoskins is going to be on the radar. The knee issue might give them pause, but he’d be a good fit. The 31-year-old consistently posts an OPS+ of around 125 and approaches 30 homers each season. The San Diego Padres could also take a crack at landing Hoskins. Granted, they have Matthew Batten potentially at first base, but with a career .669 OPS type in over 139 at-bats, Hoskins would be a more reliable choice.
Craig Kimbrel, RHP
If Phillies fans could eject right-handed pitcher Craig Kimbrel into the Moon post-World Series, they would line up in droves. Make no mistake, he is a reliable closer.
Kimbrel put together a strong season for the ballclub in 2023. He went 8-6 with a 3.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 28 walks, and 94 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched during the regular season. He also became an All-Star for the ninth time in his career. He didn’t even register a blown save until after the All-Star break.
The wheels slowly came off the Kimbel Express, and it was downhill from there. Yet his worst moments came in Game 3 and 4 of the National League Championship Series. In Game 3, Kimbrel gave up the game-winning run and took the loss in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2-1 comeback win.
The following night, he succumbed to the pressure again in the eighth inning as he allowed the Diamondbacks to come back and tie the game. This resulted in an unfortunate Phillies loss.
But he can still be reliable, and there are a plethora of teams that are looking to bolster their bullpen depth. The newly minted World Series champion Texas Rangers will need to add some depth. It wouldn’t hurt the Los Angeles Angels to upgrade their bullpen.
The Mets and Chicago Cubs could also inquire about adding Kimbrel to their squad.
Michael Lorenzen, RHP
Right-handed pitcher Michael Lorenzen was acquired by the Phillies on Aug. 1 for minor leaguer Hao Yu-Lee. Lorenzen was in the starting rotation and had two strong starts, including a no-hitter against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 9. The rest of the season? Not so great for him. He finished the season 9-9 with a 4.18 ERA and 1 save.
The St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays could both benefit from adding Lorenzen. Now the Rays need a starting pitcher, but Lorenzen showed some promise in filling that void. St. Louis is interested in adding a hybrid starter/reliever role and could get Lorenzen for a good price. Atlanta might be interested in having him as a mid-rotation starter, but there are better options on the market.