The Phillies and representatives for ace Aaron Nola have discussed a possible contract extension this spring, reports Matt Gelb of the Athletic. The numbers under consideration are unclear. Gelb adds the sides have exchanged formal proposals and suggests there’s optimism about the chances of getting a deal done at some point.
As things stand, the former seventh overall pick is on track to be one of the top free agents on next winter’s market. Rival clubs would surely love an opportunity to make a run at the All-Star. Nola expressed a desire to work something out with Philadelphia instead, though he noted he’s leaving most of the details to his agents at Paragon Sports International.
“My reps are handling it. I don’t really know, honestly,” Nola said about the status of talks (via Gelb). “I love it here. I think everybody loves it here.” Nola suggested his camp would table discussions until season’s end if no deal were in place by Opening Day. “I want to focus on the season, definitely. We’d have to reopen it after the season, for sure. But during the season, I want to stay focused on that: playing good ball, trying to win a championship.”
Nola is coming off another excellent year, one that landed him a fourth place finish in NL Cy Young balloting. It was the third top ten placement of his career and a fairly typical showing by his standards. Nola made all 32 starts and threw 205 innings. He posted a 3.25 ERA with an excellent 29.1% strikeout percentage and a 3.6% walk rate that was among the league’s lowest. That marked the third consecutive season in which he fanned upwards of 29% of batters faced while generating swinging strikes on at least 12% of his pitches.
In addition to his excellent rate performance, Nola has arguably been the sport’s predominant workhorse over the past few seasons. He’s respectively made 33, 34, 32 and 32 starts in each of the last four 162-game seasons and took the ball all 12 times during the shortened schedule. Since the start of 2018, Nola leads the majors with both 143 starts and 871 2/3 innings. He’s one of just five hurlers to surpass the 800-inning mark in that time. Aside from a brief stay on the COVID-19 list, he hasn’t missed any time since a 2016 elbow strain.
Nola and Julio Urías join two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani as the top starting pitchers on track for free agency. If he did hit the open market, it’d be the first trip of his career. Nola has spent his entire career with Philadelphia, signing a $45MM extension over the 2019-20 offseason. That deal came with a $16MM club option for the 2023 campaign, one the Phils made the obvious decision to exercise last fall.
There’s no question Nola is in line for a much more significant payday this time around — either via another extension or free agent deal. He turns 30 in June, so he’s still in position for a long-term pact despite his first extension pushing back his initial path to free agency by two years. Nola’s combination of performance track record, age and durability could make him one of the top free agent pitchers of the last couple seasons.
Jacob deGrom landed the highest guarantee of any free pitcher the past few years, securing $185MM over five seasons from the Rangers. deGrom is the best pitcher in the sport on a rate basis but headed into his age-35 campaign with 2021-22 injury issues. The more apt comparison point for Nola is Carlos Rodón, who secured six years and $162MM from the Yankees this winter.
Rodón is a few months younger now than Nola will be next offseason but the age gap is fairly minor. The Yankee southpaw has been more overpowering over the past two seasons, striking out almost 34% of opponents with a 2.67 ERA. Rodón throws harder and is arguably the more dominant pitcher on a per-inning basis while Nola has a significant edge from a durability perspective. Nola has topped 200 innings in his career on three separate occasions. Rodón, who missed extended chunks of action from 2018-20 thanks to elbow and shoulder surgeries, has never topped the 178 frames he threw last year.
There’s an argument for Nola’s camp to beat the Rodón deal, perhaps by a decent margin. The Phillies righty compares reasonably well to Stephen Strasburg over the three seasons prior to his seven-year, $245MM megadeal with the Nationals from the 2019-20 offseason. Over the last three seasons, Nola has thrown 457 innings with a 3.80 ERA, 30% strikeout rate and 4.9% walk percentage. In the three years leading up to his contract, Strasburg had tossed 514 1/3 innings (an edge attributable to the shortened 2020 schedule) of 3.15 ERA ball with a 29.3% strikeout rate and 6.8% walk percentage.
Strasburg secured his contract — the second-largest pitcher deal in MLB history — on the heels of a stellar playoff run culminating in a championship and World Series MVP award. Nola doesn’t have that kind of momentum leading up to extension discussions, and it’s hard to envision the Phillies matching the Strasburg deal while Nola is a year away from the open market. Still, it serves as an example of the kind of heights a pitcher of his caliber can reach in free agency if he hits the market coming off a peak platform season.
The Phillies haven’t been averse to long-term commitments. Bryce Harper and Trea Turner each reached or topped the $300MM mark. The Phils went into nine figures to land Zack Wheeler and Nick Castellanos and to retain J.T. Realmuto. Wheeler will make $23.5MM in 2024, the final season of his five-year contract. Taijuan Walker is locked into the rotation for the next four years on this winter’s $72MM deal. Ranger Suárez is controllable via arbitration through 2025, while top prospects Andrew Painter and Mick Abel are viewed as long-term rotation building blocks.
There’s a fair bit of talent on the starting staff. That seems unlikely to deter the Phils from making a serious run at retaining Nola, however, considering how impactful he’s been over the past half-decade. Whether they can reach an agreement within the next six weeks is going to be a key storyline in camp.
Dombroski is on fire this month….
Steve Cohen: I’ve signed the best players this offseason. No one can beat quality, longevity, and press of the 400MM team I’ve assembled:
Dombrowski: Hold my beer.
I’m on the pro-Dombrowski side. I understand the reasons many fans dislike him, but he comes to places to win, convinces owners to spend, and gets the deals done.
Philly is going to be fun to watch this year.
Agreed. I liked DD in both FL and DET. The guy knows what he’s doing. I’m also loving the changes they have made to their scouting and analytics departments. When you have players crediting the coaching and analtyics staff with upping their game (like Wheeler has stated), something’s going right.
THe Phillies seem to be making all the right moves. Just hope the drafting lkeeps trending in the right direction.
For teh immediate future, I’m hopeful for a 3rd appearance in a year for a Philadelphia team in a Championship, only I’m hoping for a win this time.
I agree with you. I think teams over value prospects. So many that never pan out. I like the way he runs the team. Like you said he comes to win.
I liked DD in BOS as well. He got it done with Sale, even though there was some bad luck involved in the end keeping him off the field.
No reason to think he won’t step up and do what it takes to keep his Ace in Philly too.
If Nola gets extended this will be one of the most boring offseasons for free agency in recent memory. Ohtani, Machado, Urias, and a whole lot of meh
roiste, as a Phillies fan, I’ll be happy with that from a personal standpoint…
NBC Philly put out a post that they were in talks a few hours ago. It’s great to see that Nola is addressing that it was true…
Nola is going to cost quite a bit, deservedly so….Can’t wait for the updates.
It will be a fantastic off season for those three. All teams looking for a big boost will be after just 3 players.
Urias won’t get to free agency, the Dodgers will have him signed
Wishing the same man but just knowing Urias’s agent is BorASS he’ll probably take him into the open market unfortunately.
Guys always say the agents are handling it, but they don’t want the distraction in the season.
God I hope they work out a deal soon
how long ago was Cole’s deal? I’m pretty sure someone else got 200+
Cole was signed in December, 2019. Although there have been pitchers that eclipsed his AAV (ie, Scherzer, deGrom, & JV), no pitcher has approached anywhere near that total since.
Being that this is a Phillies article, when I was reading your comment and I saw “Cole’s deal” the first thing that came to mind was Cole Hamels and his last deal with the Phillies. While not in Gerrit Cole territory, I believe that is still the largest long-term deal for a Phillies pitcher overall. I may be wrong and have to look t up, but I believe it was.
Shoot, man, I wasn’t even thinking about Cole Hamels. What. A. Dummy I am. Sorry for throwing that confusing monkey wrench in there. I immediately defaulted to Gerritt Cole.
No man, you were right, I was wrong. 99.9% of people would have said Gerrit Cole lol. I was just in a Phillis state of mind. A Von Purple Haze or something.
Honestly I also thought of Hamels at first because of the Phillies context. I did figure it though.
Same here. Phillies fan as well though haha
I thought Hamels as well. Also this is the most wholsome and civil thread I’ve ever read on trade rumors. Cheers fellas.
Where is the love emoji on this site?
It’s stored in my heart. Where’s the key to my heart you ask? Well, that information is top secret.
YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!!
Lock him up.
Why, Von? What’s he done that’s illegal?!
deGrom Texas Ranger
False imprisonment is also illegal.
Gonna cost at least 8/$250m… At that point DD should be locked up for fiscal malpractice…
Very important PHI gets this done cuz the suitors for him would be, well, everyone
Could very possibly head to Queens if they miss out on Ohtani. Or even if they get Ohtani.
With Machado opting out, all eyes are on the Mets as many believe that they passed on Correa thinking Machado would indeed opt out.
I like that teasm are locking up their own players. There’s still plenty of intrigue in the FA market with it.
If Mets or any other team wants Machado at his asking price… have fun with him. There was a report of him wanting 10 years/400 million. I hope that’s not true but if it is some other team can have him.
Cohen can sign Machado for $400 and Ohtani for $600, what’s another billion $$$.
The only way the Mets “might” be interested in Machado is if Ohtani signs elsewhere. Even then…I wouldn’t take it to the bank. Cohen wants Ohtani. Look at the roster. Mets will need a pitcher after Scherzer leaves. Mets need a power bat. Hmm. Two birds one stone. A player Cohen can market worldwide. Doesn’t mean it will happen. Dodgers, Yankees others will be all in. Who knows what Ohtani wants? Cohen will be the high bidder but that may not be enough. He is not blowing money on Machado until Ohtani is settled. Plus, he already has a top 3B fallback in Brett Baty.
He was already willing to give up on Baty at 3rd for Correa. I fully expect the Mets to be all-in on Machado and Ohtani.
Any Pitcher who has a chance to sign any kind of extension before opening day should do so. With rule changes this, offence will only go up, and pitcher stats will take a hit. Every Pitcher’s value is at its highest presently. Take the money now, gamble is not worth it at this moment in history.
Sign an extension. Pitching stats about to explode.
Necessity. Wheeler has two more years (including this one) and not sure they re-sign him. We’ll see what the kids have coming up but having an anchor like Nola will be needed with all I said above.
Wheeler’s wife is from South Jersey. Part of the reason he signed w/ the Phillies was to stay in the area. From all points, it looks like he enjoys it in PHL. He’s 32. I’d imagine the Phillies would have an easier time signing him in his age 35 season then signing Nola now.
More so Wheeler not be as effective. Re-signing a 34 year old wheeler wills be easier/cheaper than 29 ear old Nola, but Nola would probably be the more productive.
No argument there. Halladay and Lee both fell off a cliff (no pun intended) after their age 34 seasons.
That leads me to believe that the Phillies could get him on a relatively team frienly deal at that age. It’ll be interesting to see how the next 2 seasons pan out for Wheeler.
Those were indeed sad times. Lee kept suffering injuries so we saw it coming, but Halladay went from dominant to completely toast almost over night. I’m not looking forward to seeing that with legends like Verlander, Scherzer and Kershaw, but it’s bound to happen soon.
I didn’t know he’s from Louisiana. With a last name of Nola that’s pretty interesting. I wonder if there’s a story behind it in their family history or it’s just a coincidence.
I knew a guy named Keith One-Tooth McInbred and it was a homage to his family’s Ohio history that they made official in 1974.
I love the progress by DD with the most important extension negotiation this offseason for the Phils. It’s gonna’ cost big, but Nola has been great and you always want to sign the homegrown pitcher that you know vs. the FA where possible.
Nola / SirAnthony / Alvarado…this would retain some very important arms and give the kids a chance to develop with less pressure.
though he noted he’s leaving most of the details to his agents
I love the approach. A player should be able to lay out 90% of the contract, and let his agent do the rest. Then he never has to answer questions again.
Recently, in a press conference, Pete Alonso simply stated I’m not comfortable discussing any possible extension talks. It was the perfect response and the media couldn’t follow up with the 57 planned questions. Just let the agent handle it so the player can focus on playing.
7/210 gets it done? I wonder where the numbers will end up for someone who has been very strong but not always the most consistent, though he’s evened that out a bit in recent years. I love him and hope he makes it to FA, but I don’t see Philly letting it happen.
As an Angels fan, I’m not a fan of giving big contracts. Josh Hamilton, Anthony Rendon, Upton, Pujols, among others.
Should have put more money in the farm system with player development. All these drafts for over a decade and only have Trout to show for it.
I can’t remember the last time the Angels even won a playoff game. Almost a decade since they made the playoffs.
Still frustrated the owner didn’t sell the team, but that’s another topic.
You look at Strasburg with the Nats. Hard to rebuild when $35 mil per year is locked up for 7 years and he can’t pitch.
In the case of the Nats, they could easily rebuild even with that horrible contract. I get your overall point though. Not every bad contract is an albatross. Compiling a bunch of bad contracts is tough though.
6/180m seems reasonable to me. Unless the want to lower the annual average to lower the luxury tax. 8/210m
Nola’s about as close as you can get to a HOF pace over the last six years while still coming up short. 3.24 FIP, 122 ERA+, missed about 8 starts in all that time. If he pitched like this since 21 rather than since 24, he’d have a shot at the Hall.