One day after the Philadelphia Phillies and Aaron Nola agreed to a seven-year, $172 million contract, they made it official with a Monday afternoon press conference at Citizens Bank Park.
The presser ran the gamut of topics you'd expect, with Nola fielding most of the questions. There weren't any big surprises from Nola — he was as stoic and openly honest as usual. He made some comments that will make Phillies fans feel even better about the re-signing, although it's hard to imagine many have a problem with the team bringing Nola back.
Nola always wanted to come back to Philadelpia
Nola, flanked on the podium by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld, made it clear he always wanted to be back in Philadelphia despite the brief venture into free agency.
"I've always wanted to be a Phillie, I've always been a Phillie," Nola said. "This is the only place we had our eyes set on. It's the most comfortable place for me. Everybody in this organization is so good and so committed to winning ... I'm very grateful to be back."
Nola wanting to remain a Phillie wasn't a big secret. This is something everybody has known since extension negotiations last offseason when talks went nowhere fast with the two sides multiple years and millions of dollars apart. From the get-go, Nola was upfront about wanting to stay, even back then, per Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
When asked about his feelings about the free agency process during his foray into unknown waters, Nola gave the kind of reply you'd expect Nola to give.
"It's not really about the money for me, as it is being in a place we want to be for the next seven years," Nola said. "I think that part is more important to me and to the relationships I've made over here, and the memories that we've made together as an organization, as a team, trumps that.
"And I think that's just the reality of free agency. We wanted to go through and see what it's about, but ultimately, this is the place we wanted to be."
Winning is Nola's top priority
When asked if he gave any thought to his possible statistical records and his Phillies legacy during the process, he made it clear that his priorities are spending the rest of his career in Philadelphia and winning.
"I think the part of spending my whole career with one team, ya, I feel like that's pretty special to do especially in today's age of baseball," Nola said about his legacy. " ... the biggest thing I think about is winning a World Series. Over the past two years, we've gotten pretty close. We obviously have the team to do it, and to make that next step is obviously my goal ... that was a big reason that I came back."
Just how big a part did wanting to win play in his decision-making? After talking about the Phillies' two close but ultimately unsuccessful attempts in 2022 and 2023, Nola put it as clearly as fans could have hoped to hear.
"I'm speaking for everybody in our clubhouse," he said. "We just want to win it for the city and win it for this organization, and that's obviously our goal."
Nola and the Phillies are confident about his health holding up
As the questions got around to the practicality of giving a seven-year contract to a 30-year-old, a deal that will take Nola through his age-37 season, Fuld spoke about the team's belief in Nola as a pitcher and as a person.
"It starts with his work ethic, his dedication, the desire to be great for a long time," Fuld said. "When you evaluate these sorts of things you have to start with the make up. I don't know if anybody in the game has better make up than Aaron Nola ...
"Good outing or bad outing, it's the same person, and it's the same desire to be good the next time he grabs the ball ... I don't know if you can draw up a better human being for long-term sustainable success."
As for Nola, who has averaged 206 innings for 162 games over his career, he made sure to let everyone know that he's just as dedicated to staying healthy for the long haul.
"I'm going to do everything I can to stay durable and take the ball every time they ask me to."