In the past few seasons, the Philadelphia Phillies have shown no reluctance to spend money on key acquisitions. That is a big reason why the team was able to go on the magical ride in 2022 that had them at the doorstep of a championship.
However, the organization will be tested this year to see if they are willing to spend money on one of their longest-tenured homegrown players. Aaron Nola is set to hit the free agent market following 2023. Here’s why the organization must do everything in its power to keep Nola in red pinstripes for the foreseeable.
For starters, Nola must be extended because the Phillies have already extended other key pitchers so far in spring training. Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Alvarado were given extensions that will lock down the bullpen for years to come. Why not add Nola to that list?
Following a magnificent 2018 season Nola signed a four-year- $45 million extension with the club. The Phillies then picked up his option for the 2023 season.
Since entering the league in 2015, Nola has been one of the best pitchers in MLB and a fixture of the Phillies’ transformation from a 100-loss team to National League Champions. In the time frame, Nola has made an all-star team while receiving CY-Young votes in three seasons. He is known for his great volume, pitching in over 200 innings three times.
In the last five seasons, Nola has led the MLB in innings pitched with 871 2/3. He is a true workhorse at the top of the rotation.
The magical 2022 postseason run began with Nola. With just three games left in the regular season, the Phillies headed to Houston to play the Astros. In Nola’s final start of the regular season, he brought a perfect game into the 7th inning, ultimately leading to a postseason birth. And the rest, as they say, is history.
He also is known for his great strikeout-to-walk ratios. In 2022 he led MLB with an 8.1 SO/W.
Nola has been the opening-day starter for the Phillies for five consecutive seasons (likely will be six).
Nola’s pedigree is off the charts and not something that is found often. Speculation by some this spring has been that a successful rookie season from Andrew Painter would give the Phillies more ease to let Nola walk.
This is far from the case. The Phillies should not be looking to replace Nola in the rotation, but rather add on to the rotation. In Thursday’s press conference, Dombrowski said the same. When asked about the possibility of having Painter replace Nola, Dombrowski said “I don’t think you ever have enough good players…having Nola and Painter in the rotation for years to come would be good for us”.
Signing Nola to an extension as soon as possible would be smart for the club. He currently makes $16 million in 2023 and his extension will put him in the $25-30 million a year range. If he were to have another stellar season and the market was to increase (like it has in the past few years) he could be looking at an even bigger deal.
Aaron Nola has repeatedly said he would love to stay with the Phillies for the remainder of his career. He said, “I love it here, I think everybody loves it here”.
The two sides have reportedly already started contract negotiations with the hopes of getting a deal done before the end of spring. Nola has said that he will not continue negotiations once the season begins in Texas on March 30th.
While fans have been blessed with recent success and spending, for longtime Phillies fans it would be gut-wrenching to see Aaron Nola where a different major league uniform than the red pinstripes with Phillies across the chest. Nola was the first bright spot of this new era of Phillies baseball. In the post-Utley, Rollins, Howard, four aces era, Nola became the first homegrown player to become an above-average major league player for the Phillies.
After being drafted out of Louisiana State University with the 7th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Nola quickly burst on the scene. He instantly became a front-of-rotation starter and has stayed in that role his entire career.
He will be a Phillies Wall of Famer one day and if he keeps up the pace he is on, he could find himself in Cooperstown as well.
Aaron Nola alongside Rhys Hoskins has truly been the bridge between the last place Phillies to the National League Champion Phillies. For what is supposed to be a very fruitful next few years of winning for Philadelphia, Aaron Nola should be and must be on the team.
While a deal seems likely, the Phillies should look to get the deal as soon as possible.