2. Signing Phillies ace Aaron Nola to a 4-year contract extension
Aaron Nola was just in his first year of arbitration when general manager Matt Klentak finalized a four-year, $45 million contract extension — including a club option for 2023 — with the Phillies ace in February 2019.
Had the Phillies not worked out the deal, Nola would have entered free agency after the upcoming season. Nola is owed $15.5 million for 2022, followed by a $16 million team option (or $4.25 million buyout) for 2023. It is safe to say that Nola’s average annual value the next two years would have far exceeded what the Phillies will end up paying him, had he entered free agency.
It is hard to believe, but the former first-round pick from the 2014 draft is entering his seventh season in red pinstripes. Since 2017, Nola has posted a 46-29 record, 3.23 ERA, 1.136 WHIP, and 733-210 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 106 starts and 654 innings.
Nola earned his first career All-Star nod in 2018, a season in which he ended up going 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA — en route to third-place Cy Young Award and 13th-place MVP Award finishes. This past season, Nola went 5-5 with a 3.28 ERA and two complete games spanning 12 starts and 71 1/3 innings. He earned his second career Cy Young Award top-10 finish, ranking seventh.
Nola has filled a much-needed, top-of-the-rotation role arguably ever since Cole Hamels was traded to the Chicago Cubs ahead of the July 2015 trade deadline. Now, he has other rotation arms to complement him, including Zack Wheeler. Baseball experts are predicting fellow right-hander Zach Eflin to be just as valuable in 2021.