Philadelphia reporter Howard Eskin spoke on Phillies ace Aaron Nola Wednesday, suggesting that his contract demands were a little higher than expected. Per Eskin, Nola wants close to $30 million per season, as well as a seven-year contract that would pay him into his age-37 season.
That would be a risk to take on any pitcher, let alone Nola, who is coming off one of his worst regular-season campaigns. It's a bold ask of Nola and his agency to set the pitching market this high. Surely there are pitching-needy teams desperate enough to make such a move -- looking at you, St. Louis -- but the Phillies are not one of those.
Dave Dombrowski and Nola have been far apart on a potential extension since spring training. First it was the overall money in said deal, and then the length of it. Suffice to say if Eskin is correct in his reporting, the Phillies will not give Nola the contract he desires.
As Eskin notes, the Phillies are unlikely to bring Nola back, and that has been the case ever since he hit free agency.
Who should the Phillies sign to replace Aaron Nola?
If Nola does leave to a team like the Cardinals or even Dodgers, the Phils still have plenty of options on the free-agent market. Blake Snell has been floated as an ideal replacement for Nola. His contract demands would be similar, but Snell would at least be coming off a likely NL Cy Young season. As Bob Nightengale reported over the weekend, the Phils have already discussed this scenario to some degree:
"He (Dombrowski) wouldn’t mind bringing back starter Aaron Nola, but they were four years and about $100 million apart in their negotiations last winter, and it’s highly unlikely the gap will completely close...GMs believe that the Phillies will let Nola walk, and will turn their attention to Blake Snell, who’s about to win his second Cy Young award."
Snell -- or perhaps another productive frontline starter -- would pair well with Zack Wheeler, who is an ace in his own right. Losing Nola isn't the end of the world for the Phils.