ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Aaron Nola was a name that was seen as one of the top starting pitchers in this free agent class that the St. Louis Cardinals could go after.
While Nola had a tough 2023 season, pitching a 4.46 ERA, his swing and miss profile was still strong, as he struck out 202 batters in 2023, the fifth time in the last six seasons Nola has struck out over 200 batters.
However, the Nola to the Cardinals dream immediately was dead over the weekend as Nola was set to return to the Philadelphia Phillies, resigning with the team to a reportedly seven-year, $172 million contract, a far lower deal from the seven-year $210 million he was reportedly seeking.
According to multiple reports, Nola did receive higher offers, but he desired to remain in Philly, where he accepted a hometown discount to stay with the team.
Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak joined 'Sports on A Sunday Morning' to discuss the Nola signing. While he couldn't comment much about the deal due to the collective bargaining agreement forbidding execs to publicly discuss free agents, he did have a suspicion that Nola was returning to Philly.
"I had a brief exchange with (Nola) agent (Sunday morning). I was aware this might be happening,” Mozeliak said. “It does sound like there’s a really strong desire to go back to Philly."
Mozeliak says he understands that getting someone like Nola, Sonny Gray and Yoshinobu Yamamoto is going to be a competitive market, but Mozeliak urges that the Cardinals aren't going to panic despite Nola going off the board.
"We understand we have to find guys to give us innings," said Mozeliak. "We're going to continue working at that and obviously when you look at the more top-tier pitching, we're certainly going to make sure what happening in those markets and just keep working."
"This isn't the worst day in the world by any means. There's still pitching out there and there are things we feel we can do to help our club."