We finally saw the first major move of the offseason when the Philadelphia Phillies re-signed right-hander Aaron Nola to a seven-year, $172 million deal. That comes in right around the projected average annual salary, although at a year or two longer than expected, and is the 11th-highest total value contract ever given to a pitcher -- for a guy who has been durable, yes, but has a 4.09 ERA over the past three seasons.
When Dave Dombrowski wants a player, however, he usually gets him, and Nola has been instrumental to the Phillies' success in recent seasons. We'll see how Nola's deal affects the rest of the market, but it could be the price for pitching will be even higher than anticipated -- and push some teams to look for pitching help via trades, or settle for the second- and third-tier starters available in free agency.
Now that the Phillies have made their big move of the offseason, let's consider what the other 29 teams might do to win the winter. This is a fun exercise akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Since we can only use a player once -- after all, only one team will land Shohei Ohtani -- it's all about getting things to fit while sticking to realistic payroll considerations, and a reminder that teams need backup plans to their backup plan. We're going to find a home for the top 25 free agents from Kiley McDaniel's top 50 list and make a few trades as well.