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The Opener: Nola, Yamamoto, Hall Of Fame Ballot


As another week of the offseason kicks off, here are three things to keep an eye on around baseball:

1. Phillies to hold press conference for Aaron Nola

The Phillies will host a press conference this afternoon at 12:30 PM CT to officially announce the re-signing of All-Star right-hander Aaron Nola. On Sunday, the two sides came to terms on a seven-year, $172MM contract to keep the longest-tenured Phillie in red pinstripes through his age-37 campaign. The deal marks the first nine-figure transaction of the offseason, and Nola becomes the first of MLBTR’s top 50 free agents to come off the board.

While his $24.57MM average annual salary is merely a few hundred thousand dollars lower than the $25MM figure we predicted at MLBTR, his total guaranteed salary is higher. What’s more, Nola reportedly took a hometown discount (per Jon Heyman of the New York Post), turning down even higher offers from other teams to stay with the club that drafted him seventh overall in 2014. Thus, it will be interesting to see how his deal influences the market for other starting pitchers in a similar tier, including Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, and NPB star Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

2. Yoshinobu Yamamoto to be posted this week

Speaking of Yamamoto, the Orix Buffaloes are expected to post the righty sometime this week, kicking off the 45-day window MLB clubs will have to negotiate with the 25-year-old superstar. Buster Olney of ESPN suggests the three-time NPB Triple Crown winner will be posted as early as today, and the 45-day countdown will officially begin on Tuesday.

Yamamoto is widely considered the best arm available in free agency, and it would have been reasonable for a top pitcher like Nola to wait for him to set the market at some point in the next six weeks. However, it turns out Nola was the first domino to fall, so perhaps we’ll see the other clubs that were in the mix for his services pivot to Yamamoto instead.

3. Hall of Fame ballot to be revealed

The 2024 BBWAA ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be unveiled today. Returning names will include Todd Helton (6th year on the ballot), Billy Wagner (9th), Andruw Jones (7th), Gary Sheffield (10th and final), Alex Rodriguez (3rd), Manny Ramirez (8th), Omar Vizquel (7th), Andy Pettitte (6th), and Bobby Abreu (5th). Helton and Wagner each earned more than two-thirds of the vote on the previous ballot, and each has a solid chance to earn the necessary 75% of the vote this time around. Meanwhile, Sheffield will hope to jump from 55% to 75% in his final year on the ballot.

Newcomers to the ballot will include Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer, Chase Utley, David Wright, Bartolo Colon, Matt Holliday, and José Bautista. Beltré is a likely Hall of Famer and has a chance to enter on his first ballot. Mauer and Utley aren’t as likely to reach the threshold for enshrinement right away, but they will hope to begin drumming up support for an eventual election. Finally, Wright, Colon, Holliday, and Bautista are long shots to enter the Hall, but with their various accolades and career accomplishments, they should earn enough support to remain on the ballot.

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