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Nola on $172M deal: Philly was 'the only place'

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Published in Baseball
Monday, 20 November 2023 12:29

PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Nola wanted to stay with the Philadelphia Phillies.

"I've always been a Phillie. It's the only place we kind of had our eyes set on," Nola said Monday at Citizens Bank Park, a day after agreeing to a $172 million, seven-year contract. "It's the most comfortable place for me."

Nola became the first top-level free agent to reach a deal. The 30-year-old right-hander was drafted seventh overall by Philadelphia in 2014 and has been one of the most durable pitchers since his 2015 big league debut.

"Enjoyable and not enjoyable at the same time," Nola said of free agency, "Not really about the money. Being in a place we want to be for the next seven years. That part is more important for me. We wanted to go through and see what it's about, but ultimately this is the place we wanted to be."

After earning $16 million this year in a contract that paid $56.75 million over five seasons, Nola will get yearly salaries of $24,571,428.

"We have one of the best pitchers in baseball that really fits into our ballclub," Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. "Sometimes you have to make compromises, you have to go to certain length. You weigh the dollars and length of contract, an individual that's talented, tremendous pitcher, reliable, you know the makeup of the individual, extremely hard worker.

"We want to win. We want to make it happen, and sometimes you have to compromise."

Nola and wife Hunter are expecting their first child. He said he blocked out pending free agency during the season, but the reality that he might not pitch again in Philadelphia hit him after the season.

"It was kind of tough at the end of the year," Nola said.

Nola went 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 32 starts with Philadelphia this year, finishing with 202 strikeouts in 193 2/3 innings, then went 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in four postseason starts.

After losing a six-game World Series to Houston in 2022, the Phillies were eliminated by Arizona in a seven-game NL Championship Series this year after winning the first two games.

"We've gotten pretty close," he said. "We obviously have the team to do it. It's everybody's in the organization's goal to do that. That was a big reason I came back."

Nola is part of a projected rotation that includes Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker, Ranger Suarez and Cristopher Sanchez.

"We like our five starters and look like we're set," Dombrowski said.

Nola has made at least 32 starts and pitched at least 180 2/3 innings in five of the last six years -- the exception the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

"Stick to my routine and what I've done up to this point," Nola said. "I have some ways I feel like I can make myself healthy and stay healthy. I hope I age well, for sure. I'm going to do everything I can to stay durable."

Nola is 90-71 with a 3.72 ERA in 235 starts over nine seasons and has 1,582 strikeouts in 1,422 innings. He had his best season in 2018, when he went 17-6 with a career-low 2.37 ERA in 33 starts and a career-high 212 1/3 innings.

He would get a $1 million assignment bonus if traded in 2024 or 2025. During the 2025 season, Nola will become a 10-year veteran who has spent five years with his team and will have the right to block trades without his consent.

Nola gets a suite on road trips and would earn $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove or becoming League Championship Series MVP. He would receive $100,000 for World Series MVP.

Nola also would get $100,000 for winning a Cy Young Award, $50,000 for finishing second in the voting and $25,000 for third.

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