What would it take the Phillies to lock up Aaron Nola before free agency?
Dave Dombrowski recently commented that the Philadelphia Phillies would like to keep starting pitcher Aaron Nola in red pinstripes beyond the 2023 season. The Phillies would be wise to sign Nola before next offseason to avoid a bidding war with other teams interested in signing the right-hander.
So, what would the Phillies need to offer Nola to have him stay in red pinstripes for the foreseeable future? Next offseason, the top free agent will be Shohei Ohtani — who will command a massive contract, given his ability to hit and pitch at high-caliber levels. Nola will be one of the feew top starting pitchers on the market behind Ohtani.
If this offseason indicates how the market will trend, it is likely that Nola is in line for a big payday. Carlos Rodon is a good comparison, as he entered this offseason behind Justin Verlander and Jacob DeGrom as one of baseball's most coveted starting pitchers. Rodon received a six-year, $162 million deal from the New York Yankees — which comes out to a $27 million average annual value. Nola will likely see a deal that surpasses Rodon's.
Rodon is 30 and Nola will turn the same age in June. Both pitchers debuted in 2015 and have seen their share of recent success. Even eerier is that both pitchers will enter the 2023 season with a 3.60 career ERA and K/9 rates just above 10 K/9. Some numbers that work in Nola's favor are that he has a better career WHIP — 1.13, compared to Rodon's 1.24. Nola has also been more reliable in terms of health. Nola has logged 1,228 1/3 innings in his career, while Rodon has pitched 847 1/3. According to FanGraphs, Rodon's 18.1 career WAR pales in comparison to Nola's 29.9 career WAR.
It would be fair to assume that the starting pitching market will be similar or a bit greater than this offseason. Nola would likely want at least a five-year deal and could command around $30 million a year. Something around six years and $175-$180 million may get a deal done before Nola becomes a free agent. That would put his average annual salary at a little more than $29 million per year. If he does reach free agency, he could garner a deal that would pay even more than that.