Cardinals: Playing buy, sell, or hold with starting pitching options

Dollar figures have been thrown around recently for pitchers the Cardinals are interested in. Let's play buy, sell, or hold with those values!
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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Aaron Nola

Before the 2023 season, Aaron Nola and the Philadelphia Phillies had discussions about a contract extension. Up to that point, he had led the league in games started once in his career, complete games twice, shutouts once, received Cy Young votes in three different seasons, was an All-Star once, and even received some MVP votes in 2018. Nola will likely receive a couple of Cy Young votes this year, and he has been pitching very well this postseason.

Nola's stat line for his career is comparable to Robbie Ray's of two years ago. In 8 seasons, Ray had an ERA of 4.00, a FIP of 4.04, a WHIP of 1.312, he struck out over 11 batters per nine innings, and he had an ERA+ of 110. Nola, on the other hand, has a career ERA of 3.72, a 3.38 FIP, 1.129 WHIP, 9.4 Ks/9 innings, and an ERA+ of 113. Nola's stats are slightly better than Ray's across the board; however, Robbie Ray ended the 2021 season by winning the American League Cy Young Award. He went into the offseason with a trophy in his back pocket, only bolstering his case for a long and expensive contract.

If Brandon Kiley's contract idea is a potential contract the Cardinals would offer Nola, I would hold on to that contract. An 8-year, $200 million contract gives him an AAV of $25 million, only $2 million more than Ray's. My only hesitation with this contract would be the length. Nola has a lot of innings on his arm (1,422 in the regular season alone). He has pitched a lot of innings in the postseason these last two years as well. A contract that brings him into his late-30's gives me hesitation.

Verdict: 8 years, $200 million: hold. If the length is shortened a little, I would be more comfortable. Signing Nola at a value less than Carlos Rodon and only slightly more expensive than Robbie Ray of a few years ago is appealing. Perhaps a 6-year contract would be preferable with a slightly higher AAV to appease Nola.