After the Philadelphia Phillies lost Game 6, their season comes down to a Game 7 against the Diamondbacks. If they lose, it's worth pondering if Aaron Nola has pitched his last game in Philly.
In the days before the 2023 regular season, the Philadelphia Phillies engaged with right-hander Aaron Nola about a potential contract extension. But the two sides never got close to a long-term deal, though president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that they would re-engage after the season.
By not agreeing to a long-term pact ahead of the season, the Phillies ran the risk of Nola pricing himself out of their budget, and losing him in free agency. And now with the Phillies facing a Game 7 following a 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks, Nola now faces the possibility that he pitched his last game in Philadelphia.
There will be many big market teams eyeing starting pitching this offseason, perhaps none more than the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the Phillies want to retain Nola. All indications are that Nola wants to remain in Philadelphia. After posting a 4.46 ERA and a 202/45 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 193.2 innings, the right-hander should still be within the Phillies’ budget.
Which makes a long-term pact between Nola and the Phillies the most likely scenario. But the two sides will have to make up significant ground in negotiations to turn that into reality.
Why a Phillies contract extension with Aaron Nola could be unlikely
In free agency, Nola reportedly sought an eight-year, $200 million contract. The Phillies, meanwhile, were only willing to go four or five seasons. That’s a significant bridge to gap and considering that 2024 will be his age-31 season, an eight-year deal feels unlikely. Especially with Carlos Rodon and Jacob deGrom, both more established pitchers, signing $185 and $162 million contracts in free agency last winter.
Not all hope is lost with Aaron Nola, Phillies fans
While the Phillies have historically been reluctant to sign pitchers to lucrative contracts, they have been far more aggressive under Dombrowski in signing players to long-term deals. Dombrowski has a long history of prioritizing frontline pitchers. And in looking at Nola’s tenure in Philadelphia, there’s a strong case to be made that he should be the latest player to sign such a contract.
Nola, 30, is one of the most durable pitchers in the game, throwing at least 180.2 innings in each of the last five full seasons. He’s struck out at least 202 batters in each of those seasons. He came up with the organization, has performed well in one of the toughest environments in sports, and has a 3.25 ERA in 44.1 career postseason innings.
It’s highly unlikely that a deal is reached before free agency, but there would seem to be a very real chance that he remains in Philadelphia in 2024 and beyond.