PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Phillies are making a big splash this offseason by keeping one of the top starting pitchers, coming together on a seven-year deal with right-hander Aaron Nola. Monday at Citizens Bank Park, a day after agreeing to the $172 million contract, Nola and the Phillies front office talked about him staying in the fold.
"I think the biggest thing I think about is winning a World Series. Over the past two years, we've gotten pretty close and we obviously have the team to do it,” Nola said.
“And that was a big reason that I came back.”
Nola was drafted by the Phillies in the first round out of Louisiana State University back in 2014 and has spent his entire nine-year big league career in Philadelphia.
"I wouldn't be right here without my teammates and all the friendships I've made and everybody playing together and the chemistry that we have. So I want to thank everybody again and looking forward to a lot more good memories in the next seven years," Nola said.
The 30-year-old has been incredibly durable. Nola has made at least 32 starts since 2018 — no pitcher in Major League Baseball has made more — and pitched at least 180 2/3 innings in five of the last six years — the exception being the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
In the 2023 regular season, he won 12 games with a 4.46 ERA, in the playoffs, he won three games with a 2.35 ERA, and he says he is happy to be staying in Philadelphia: “I’ve always been a Phillie. It’s the only place we kind of had our eyes set on. It’s the most comfortable place for me.”
Nola is the first top-level free agent to reach a deal.
Of free agency, he said, it’s “enjoyable and not enjoyable at the same time.” He says his decision is less about the money than about being in a place he and his wife want to be for the next seven years.
“That part is more important for me. We wanted to go through and see what it’s about, but ultimately this is the place we wanted to be.”
Nola and wife Hunter are expecting their first child. He said he blocked out pending free agency during the season, but the reality that he might not pitch again in Philadelphia hit him after the season.
“It was kind of tough at the end of the year,” Nola said.
This is a big offseason box now checked off for the Phils.
“We have one of the best pitchers in baseball that really fits into our ballclub,” Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said. “Sometimes you have to make compromises, you have to go to certain length. You weigh the dollars and length of contract, an individual that’s talented, tremendous pitcher, reliable, you know the makeup of the individual, extremely hard worker.”
Dombrowski spoke about where they go from here.
"I think the way we will now look — and we've had this discussion — is that we're in a position that we can just evaluate a lot of different things that we think make our club better. We don't have, really, a glaring spot that we need to fill, like we needed a starting pitcher."
Asked if he considers the starting rotation now set for 2024, Dombrowski said: "Yes, I do. We have five starters that we like.”
Nola is part of a projected rotation that includes Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker, Ranger Suárez and Cristopher Sánchez.
After earning $16 million this year in a contract that paid $56.75 million over five seasons, he will get yearly salaries of $24,571,428.
He would get a $1 million assignment bonus if traded in 2024 or 2025. During the 2025 season, Nola will become a 10-year veteran who has spent five years with his team and will have the right to block trades without his consent.
Nola gets a suite on road trips and would earn $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove or becoming League Championship Series MVP. He would receive $100,000 for World Series MVP.
Nola also would get $100,000 for winning a Cy Young Award, $50,000 for finishing second in the voting and $25,000 for third.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.