Should Philadelphia fall from their current 2.5 games back in the NL Wild Card standings, Phillies ace Aaron Nola, 29, could be a rental (with a $16 million team option for 2023). The 6’2” righty has made 14 starts in 2022, pitching to a 2.95 FIP, 3.11 ERA and NL-leading 0.87 WHIP over 89.2 innings, with 99 strikeouts against only 11 walks. Recall that the Blue Jays actually drafted him back in the 22nd round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from Catholic HS in Baton Rouge, LA, although they were unable to sign him as he opted instead to attend Louisiana State University.
Jays Journal contributor Henry Wright wrote recently, that Oakland A’s and Cincinnati Reds starters Frankie Montas and Luis Castillo will also both be free agents in 2024.
Other pending free agent starters who might be available as rentals – depending on what happens to the Angels over the next month plus – are former Jay farmhand Noah Syndergaard (29 years old, 10 starts, 51 innings pitched with a 3.73 FIP and 3.53 ERA, was part of the R.A. Dickey trade in December 2012), as well as Michael Lorenzen (30 years old, 11 starts, 65 innings pitched with a 3.94 FIP and 4.15 ERA).
Or, could the Blue Jays use some of their remaining financial flexibility under the competitive balance (“luxury”) tax threshold, and look to take on the bad contract of Washington starter Patrick Corbin as part of a larger blockbuster trade for LHH OF Juan Soto?
Soon-to-be 33-year-old Corbin hasn’t pitched very well since the Nats’ World Series championship season in 2019 and has approximately $72 million still owed on his contract through his age 35-year season in 2024. He does, however, have World Series pitching experience with a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings pitched in the 2019 series. He’s made 14 starts so far in 2022, pitching to a 4.85 FIP and 6.59 ERA in 69.2 innings. Perhaps Jays’ pitching coach Pete Walker could work some magic on Corbin and get that 1.78 WHIP on 97 hits allowed down?
The Jays have approximately $39 million of salary room left below the current $230 million luxury tax threshold in 2022, and could free up another $12.6 million by trading both Teoscar Hernandez and Danny Jansen as the major league components in a larger package for Soto, Corbin and maybe switch-hitting pending free agent Josh Bell? The Hyun-Jin Ryu and Randal Grichuk contracts will drop off after 2023, freeing up another $24.3 million. With Corbin’s $35.4 million in 2024 falling off, they’d then have more room to extend Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Alek Manoah to longer-term contracts?