As the season nears its end for the St. Louis Cardinals, their latest opponent, the Philadelphia Phillies, may boast one of the biggest answers to their problems this season: starting pitcher Aaron Nola.
According to a new report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold, Nola is on the Cardinals' wishlist, and as a source told Goold, may even be at the top of that list for John Mozeliak. This isn't the first time Nola has been reported as on the Cardinals' wishlist, with Bob Nightengale reporting that as well in late August.
This makes a ton of sense for St. Louis and should be a sign that the Cardinals mean business this offseason. Their hope is to add three starting pitchers, but doing so without adding an arm that can truly lead the rotation would be a huge miss by the front office. Actions speak louder than words, but it seems like the Cardinals may finally be ready to do just that.
Nola has had a down year in 2023, going 12-9 thus far with a 4.62 ERA over 181 innings pitched with 186 strikeouts The home run ball has really bit him this year, but coming off a 3.25 ERA last year, I'd expect Nola to rebound in a big way.
The pitching market is deep in terms of names this offseason, but each of the top-end guys has major question marks. Nola is 30 years old and has had a down year, but he still represents one of the best options available on the market. The Cardinals have to be willing to take on that kind of risk this year, and Nola could be that guy for them.
Now, I don't think they should write a blank check to him either. If his market gets out of control, they may need to turn their attention to a Blake Snell, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, or honestly, even a Sonny Gray type (who is probably my favorite option available this offseason).
Some people are going to complain about Nola. I get it. But with the corner St. Louis has backed themselves into, they don't really have room to be picky. I think Nola is a solid bet for the next few years to lead their rotation, and then as he ages, the Cardinals will hopefully have raised up some young arms to lead the way or can look to the free agent or trade market again as contracts for Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz expire.