In a heartfelt scene, pitcher Aaron Nola expressed his unwavering commitment to the Philadelphia Phillies after signing a massive seven-year, $172 million contract to stay in Philly.
He’s the first top-level free agent to secure a deal this offseason … And he made it clear there was no place he’d rather be.
“I’ve always been a Phillie. It’s the only place we kind of had our eyes set on,” Nola said, reflecting on his connection to the organization that drafted him seventh overall in 2014.
“It’s the most comfortable place for me.”
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 20, 2023
The 30-year-old right-hander, known for his durability and reliability, has been a cornerstone of the Phillies pitching staff since his big-league debut in 2015.
After a season that saw him earn $16 million, Nola’s new contract will see him receive a significant bump in salary.
“Enjoyable and not enjoyable at the same time,” Nola described his experience with free agency.
“Not really about the money. Being in a place we want to be for the next seven years. That part is more important for me,” he added.
Aaron Nola turned down more money from other teams so he could be a Phillie for life
This man is a Philadelphia legend
Happy to have him for the long haul 😁 pic.twitter.com/5xwPFPitqX
— Philly Sports Sufferer (@mccrystal_alex) November 19, 2023
Phillies president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, emphasized the significance of retaining Nola: “We have one of the best pitchers in baseball that really fits into our ballclub. Sometimes you have to make compromises, you have to go to a certain length.”
Nola, who is expecting his first child with wife Hunter, revealed that he blocked out thoughts of pending free agency during the season, only to confront the reality after the postseason.
“It was kind of tough at the end of the year,” he admitted.
During the 2023 season, Nola posted a 12-9 record with a 4.46 ERA in 32 starts and excelled in the postseason with a 3-1 record and a 2.35 ERA in four starts.
Reflecting on the team’s recent playoff runs, Nola expressed optimism about the Phillies potential: “We’ve gotten pretty close. We obviously have the team to do it. It’s everybody’s in the organization’s goal to do that. That was a big reason I came back.”
Aaron Nola is a perpetual hat guy. I'm going to pretend like I never saw this picture. pic.twitter.com/32egaB0tIR
— Kyle Pagan (@CBKylePagan) November 20, 2023
Nola is set to be part of a formidable rotation alongside Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker, Ranger Suarez, and Cristopher Sanchez.
“We like our five starters and look like we’re set,” said Dombrowski.
Having made at least 32 starts and pitched over 180 innings in five of the last six years, Nola is determined to maintain his health and performance.
“Stick to my routine and what I’ve done up to this point,” he affirmed. “I hope I age well, for sure. I’m going to do everything I can to stay durable.”
Over his nine-year career, Nola boasts a 90-71 record with a 3.72 ERA in 235 starts and 1,582 strikeouts in 1,422 innings. His best season came in 2018 when he went 17-6 with a career-low 2.37 ERA.
As part of his new contract, Nola would receive a $1 million assignment bonus if traded in 2024 or 2025 … In 2025, he will gain 10-year veteran status, enabling him to block trades without consent.
Nola’s contract also includes perks such as a suite on road trips and bonuses for achievements such as making the All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove, or becoming League Championship Series MVP.
He would receive $100,000 for World Series MVP and $100,000 for winning a Cy Young Award, among other accolades.
At the end of the day, he stays in the city he wanted to be all along … (and the money doesn’t hurt either!)
What are your thoughts on the Phillies entering the 2024 season?
Should they be considered the favorites in the National League?
Or do you put the Braves and/or Dodgers ahead of them???