One Phillies Spring Agenda Item: Sign Aaron Nola
Some fans had some questions surrounding Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola heading into 2022. Nola cannot put down hitters with two strikes. Nola is not a big game winner. Nola had not won anything. Those questions seemed to be silenced in 2022, with Nola leading the Phillies to their first National League title since 2009. Now that that is out of the way, there's one clear task this Spring: Extend Aaron Nola.
Nola is in the last year of a four-year, $45 million contract extension ahead of the 2019 season, which included a $16 million option for 2023. Of course the Phillies exercised that option. With one year left on the deal, the Phillies are turning towards a new deal. Nola seems very open to the idea as well.
Earlier this week in The Athletic, Matt Gelb got Nola's own words, and he "loves it" in Philly:
“My reps are handling it,” Nola said. “I don’t really know, honestly. I love it here. I think everybody loves it here. Everybody that comes to this team. I talked to Craig Kimbrel the other day when he came in and he was like, ‘I could see how much fun it is just from afar.’ It’s a fun clubhouse. It’s a fun group of guys.”
The Phillies want to extend Nola as well, too.
While acknowledging that the Phillies cannot comment on the status of contract negotiations, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made the club's intentions very clear:
"Aaron is a player we want to keep in the organization for an extended time."
So what would it take for such a deal? The biggest comparison that comes up a lot is new Yankees starter Carlos Rodón.
The 30 year-old Rodón signed a six-year, $162 million contract ahead with the New York Yankees this offseason. Nola turns 30 years old himself this season, so there would naturally be the comparison.
The Phillies have prioritized rebuilding their farm system while staying competitive in recent years. The best way to do that is to keep the talented players that they have. Nola would only cost the Phillies money.
Meanwhile, the development of the likes of Andrew Painter and Mick Abel continues. The Phillies have Taijuan Walker signed for four years. Zack Wheeler has two seasons remaining on his contract. Subtracting Nola would present a challenge to the Phillies starting rotation, even if Painter and Abel assume spots.
While some may try to poke some holes in Nola's game, that might just be a symptom of knowing him too well. But he does not have many. He's young enough, has been mostly healthy and most importantly, will leave the Phillies without a hole in the starting rotation. It's time to get it done.