I've read people suggesting wait until mid-season, but that seems to not consider what resources the Phillies have available and which of those resources are scarce, today and 4 years from now. We have a ton of revenue, we have a virtually infinite amount of cap space, we don't have enough talent in the high minors and MLB to field a contender. If we sign a pitcher for only $ and a 3rd round pick surrendered, we have essentially traded a 3rd round pick for an established plus starting pitcher. If we aren't contending with the guy, we can trade him later. If we wait until later to acquire a plus MLB starting pitcher, it is going to cost us serious prospects at the trade deadlines. In other words, it will cost a ton more than a 3rd round pick and hurt us going into the near-term, because some of the upper-level minors serious prospects who could help the Phillies in 2019 and 2020 will be gone.
IMHO too many commentators are fighting the last war, in which the Phillies were up against the salary cap and trying to fill gaps with vets for one final push, owners/management apparently already having decided that they would willingly welcome a return to the dark ages in return for that one last shot to build their personal cred. Under those circumstances, being able to afford top talent meant getting guys already signed and not having to pay auction price. Since their actions over the entirety of the golden era and the attempt to extend it had mortgaged the farm and the dark ages were inevitable, they didn't mind parting with more young talent. We are in a totally different situation. Money and cap space are the resource we are flush in. There is no need to rebuild the team with the idea of saving $ and making each $ be very efficiently spent. That situation will arrive again in a half dozen years, but for now it is best to make maximum use of our excess resource: money/cap space.
The commentators say: but, but what if big contracts get us into that mess again? It really can't happen this year or next. We can give a very rich 3-4 year deal with zilch impact on the future and still give a humongous 5-7 year deal next season to a Machado and still be good going forward. No team in baseball is better able to spend money now than we are. The absolute last thing we should anticipate is trading serious young talent for a vet. Bundle minor prospects if that can get a deal done, but think $ over prospects. There is no award out there to be won and parade down Broad Street for either most efficient use of $ or most stalwart defense against the commissioner war against player salaries. Only wins matter, and we've had far too few of them in recent years.
If we add a quality FA SP, there will still be ample opportunity for the young SPs to strut their stuff in Philly. No name other than Nola can be written in as a plus starter for this season, and the Phillies will use 7 SP for significant starts over the course of the season, if league history is any guide.