No. 1: Aaron Nola, $172 million/7 years
When Aaron Nola re-signed with the Phillies early in the 2023 offseason, his seven-year, $172 million deal easily became the largest deal for a starting pitcher in Phillies franchise history.
With an AAV of $24.5 million, he's just above Wheeler's $23.6 million AAV and just below Sonny Gray's $25 million AAV three-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. So what does the career Phillie have to do to live up to his contract?
First, while he's been an innings-eating monster over his career, with a 162-game average of 206 innings in his nine years in the league, the Phillies will be looking for more than just innings. The team will want some consistency out of the right-hander.
In 2023, Nola ran a 4.46 ERA, and we all know about his home run issues. This was by far his worst season for the long ball, both in total home runs given up (32 in 32 starts) and in his home runs per nine innings rate of 1.5. The season resembled his 2021 campaign, in which he finished with a 4.63 ERA and 1.3 HR/9.
For Nola to earn his money, he'll need to look more like the 2022 Nola, who ran a 3.25 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 235 strikeouts in 205 innings. He finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting for his outstanding performance.
While he doesn't need to win the Cy Young — although, how nice would that be? — the 30-year-old will need to at least be casually mentioned as a candidate at some point over the next few seasons, both for the team's championship contending window and to hold up his end of the franchise's biggest starting pitcher deal.
Adding a World Series ring to his resume would make this $172 million re-signing worth it, and if he pitches like he did in the 2023 postseason, he has a good shot of helping to make that dream a reality.