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The Philadelphia Phillies managed to retain starting pitcher Aaron Nola with a seven-year contract worth a reported $172 million on Sunday, and they reportedly have another splashy move in mind that would bolster their rotation.
According to Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Phillies “are still in the market for” coveted Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, whose free agency window is expected to open this week.
“Nola was their top priority, but now that he has been signed, the Phillies will look to further bolster their pitching depth. That could mean signing Yamamoto, and signing a depth piece as well, like a multi-inning reliever or sixth/seventh starter,” Coffey stated, adding that a source said the Phillies “plan to be ‘pretty aggressive’ in pursuing [Yamamoto], but if they don’t settle on the right price, they won’t push for a deal.”
Yamamoto is expected to be one of the most sought-after starting pitchers on the open market this winter following his stellar career for the Orix Buffaloes in Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. The 25-year-old has a career record of 70-29 and went 16-6 this season with a 1.21 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 164 innings of work. Coffey noted that if he doesn’t land with the Phillies, “it’s unlikely that they will add another starter of his caliber.”
Philadelphia is hoping to improve a pitching staff that had a collective ERA of 4.02 last season. Nola wasn’t his usual dominant self, posting a 12-9 record, a 4.46 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. It was just the third time finishing with an ERA over 4.00 for the nine-year veteran.
Adding Yamamoto would surely bolster the depth around Nola and give the Phillies a strong chance to make another deep playoff run next year.