The Philadelphia Phillies didn't waste much time getting down to business this offseason. The organization made headlines on Nov. 19 with the re-signing of Aaron Nola. He'll remain in Philadelphia for several years as he agreed to a seven-year, $172 million contract with the franchise.
Phillies president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, commented in a statement about the significance of Philadelphia's re-signing of Nola:
"At the outset of this offseason, we made signing Aaron our top priority. We are committed to winning, and having an individual like him in our uniform for years to come only helps us in that regard. Aaron has proven to be one of the best and most durable pitchers in our game for a number of years now, and when considering his leadership abilities and his character, it was very important for us to keep him a part of the Phillies family."
Nola will remain with the Phillies through the 2030 season and will make history with the organization. At the conclusion of his new deal, the 30-year-old would surpass Steve Carlton's 15 seasons with the franchise to become the longest-tenured starting pitcher in the organization's history.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native has been one of the better starters in terms of the amount of innings he has pitched. In 2021, he ranked 17th with 180 2/3 innings thrown. His 205 innings were second among starters in 2022. During 2023, he tied with Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes for 10th with 193 2/3 innings pitched. With the exception of the COVID-19-shortened season of 2020, Nola has made 30+ starts for the Phillies in every season since 2018.
However, he has finished with an earned run average over four in two of the last three years. He tended to allow home runs to hitters in 2023 as he finished tied with the Minnesota Twins' Joe Ryan for 10th with 32 home runs surrendered.
Nola set a new career-high with the amount of home runs he allowed this year. His walks and hits per inning pitched of 1.15 this season was his highest since 2019 (1.27). The 96 earned runs he allowed was also a new career-high. To sum it up, the 2023 regular season was not his best in several pitching categories.
Bill Felber of Call To The Pen authored a piece about how unlikely it is that Nola will live up to the value of his contract annually through his performance. The right-hander will be making the same amount of money yearly comparable with that of an elite starter. However, he didn't perform as such in 2023.
Nola may be making money worthy of an ace but his performance is more in line with that of a second starter in a pitching rotation. The argument can be made that the club overpaid to make sure he remained with the Phillies for the remainder of his career.
While there's risk in re-signing him to such a contract, the club would also be taking a chance with finding the best fit to replace him if they didn't bring him back. After all, international superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto, arguably the top free agent pitcher available, will have plenty of suitors during the free agency period.
Nola appeared to have plenty of clubs interested in signing him in his own right, but the feeling was mutual between him and the Phillies organization on returning to the club that drafted him for the next several seasons.
The Nola re-signing is proof the Phillies intend to remain competitive in their quest to win a World Series championship within the next few seasons. If it wasn't Philadelphia, another franchise would have offered him a similar deal.
While his re-signing cements their need for a second starting pitcher, his inconsistent performance during his career in some statistical categories makes it appear he may not live up to the money he will be earning annually.
Grade for Aaron Nola's new contract: B-