The Phillies and Aaron Nola have not had any “substantive” discussions regarding a long-term contract extension, writes Matt Gelb of The Athletic in a much broader exploration of Nola’s contractual status and pending arbitration case (subscription required). The two sides are facing a $2.25MM gap between the $4.5MM at which the Phillies filed and the $6.75MM at which Nola and Paragon Sports filed.
A hearing is set for Feb. 14, and with no real talks on a multi-year deal taking place to this point, it seems all the likelier that Nola’s case will be resolved in front of an arbitration panel. There’s no immediate urgency for the Phillies to lock Nola up to a long-term contract, and it’s certainly possible that the right-hander’s preference is simply to go year-to-year through arbitration until reaching free agency upon completion of the 2021 season. Both Nola and Yankees right-hander Luis Severino are important cases for future first-time-eligible starters in arbitration; with the exception of Dallas Keuchel (who is anomalous, having entered arbitration fresh off a Cy Young win), no first-time starter has topped the $4.35MM that Dontrelle Willis received way back in 2006. It’s a stunningly outdated number, and arb victories for Nola and/or Severino would help move the needle forward for future starting pitchers.
More from the division…
- Prior to re-signing with the Braves on a one-year contract, Nick Markakis had interest from the division-rival Marlins, tweets Jon Heyman of Fancred. It’s one of the few times this offseason that the Miami organization has been connected to virtually any sort of free agent, as the vast majority of their offseason has centered around the apparently interminable J.T. Realmuto trade saga. Heyman notes that Miami is still seeking a left-handed bat — likely an outfielder — though it’s likely that they prefer to see what the return for Realmuto brings before committing any spots to veteran free agents.
- Speaking of the great Realmuto staredown, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes in his latest Inbox column that the Marlins are still insisting that the Braves include one of their current position players in a trade for the All-Star catcher. So long as that continues to be the price, Bowman writes, it’s unlikely that the Braves will cave into the Marlins’ demands. Bowman also projects that the Braves are about $15MM away from ownership’s top-approved budget level, noting that the team would like to preserve some of those resources for in-season additions when the need arises.
- In another MLB.com Inbox, Jamal Collier writes that the Nationals are still in the mix for Bryce Harper and takes his best guess at how the organization will ultimately act with regards to Harper and third baseman Anthony Rendon. Collier also adds that it’s unlikely the Nationals add another reliever on a market-value contract, adding the caveat that the Nats might make a very late addition to the relief corps if a quality reliever’s market collapses and renders his price point well south of expected levels. In a separate piece, Collier opines that a left-handed reliever would be ideal for the Nats, who tend to use Sean Doolittle in save situations and otherwise have only Matt Grace and Sammy Solis (who struggled through an awful down season in ’18) as the other two options on the 40-man roster. Non-roster invitee Vidal Nuno will also be given a chance, but it’s possible the market does yield an unexpectedly affordable left-handed upgrade, given the bulk of relievers who’ve yet to sign.