The Phillies have signed right-handed starting pitcher Aaron Nola to a four-year extension worth $45 million, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Matt Gelb first reported Wednesday morning and the team quickly confirmed. The contract includes a club option for 2023, essentially making it a five-year deal unless Nola’s career takes a downward turn.
It’s rather surprising to see Nola, an NL Cy Young finalist in 2018 and the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 draft, give up two years of free agency at what appears to be less than (what we had always considered to be) market value. But with the current state of free agency — and with the emphasis on velocity above all else from a pitching standpoint meaning that pitchers are going to last into their mid-30s less than they have in a long while — it’s understandable why Nola would value the financial security.
Nola, 25, posted career bests in ERA (2.37), WHIP (0.98), strikeouts (224), innings (212.1), and starts (33) in 2018. For his career, he has a 3.35 ERA and 1.14 WHIP while averaging 9.4 strikeouts and 2.5 walks per nine through 569 frames. If the Phillies are able to add Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado to their collection of high-profile offseason additions (a group that already includes J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, David Robertson, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos), they could be in perfect position to compete for the NL East title, putting Nola on a big stage in the postseason for the first time in his four-year career.