Right-hander Aaron Nola and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed on a seven-year, $172 million contract Sunday, sources told ESPN, locking up their longtime rotation stalwart with a massive deal that comes after nearly three weeks of inactivity in the free agent market.
The 30-year-old Nola, who is in Philadelphia taking a physical that will make the deal official, has spent all 10 years of his professional career with the Phillies, who took him with the seventh pick in the 2014 draft and promoted him to the major leagues barely a year later.
Over that time, he has been their steadiest performer, particularly over the last six seasons, when he started the most games in Major League Baseball (175) and threw the second-most innings (1,065⅓, just behind Gerrit Cole at 1,076⅔). And while the Phillies’ National League East rival Atlanta Braves had spent the early part of the winter pursuing Nola and hoping to add him to their rotation, he chose to stay in Philadelphia, a reflection of how he’d come to love the city and its rabid fan base.
The negotiations between Nola’s agents, Garrett Parcell and Joe Longo, and the teams ratcheted up going into the weekend. Despite no free agents signing since the market opened up, Nola didn’t want to dawdle. Philadelphia and Atlanta wound up as the final two teams, and Nola wound up receiving the biggest contract for a pitcher in Phillies history and the 11th-largest ever.
As Nola grew into a pitcher who twice finished in the top five of NL Cy Young voting, the Phillies moved out of a rebuilding phase, added stars around him and followed a World Series appearance in 2022 with an NLCS berth this season.
While Nola’s ERA regressed to 4.46 this year amid a spike in home runs allowed, he still threw 193⅔ innings, struck out 202 and walked 45. His ability to chew innings, strike hitters out and limit walks made him one of the most desirable free agents this winter, a fact reflected in the size of his contract. Nola is now the sixth Phillies player with a nine-figure deal, joining first baseman Bryce Harper, shortstop Trea Turner, right-hander Zack Wheeler, catcher J.T. Realmuto and outfielder Nick Castellanos.
The slow progress of baseball’s free agent season should pick up with Nola’s signing. In a class headlined by two-way star Shohei Ohtani, the majority of the biggest deals should go to pitchers, including Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto, National League Cy Young winner Blake Snell and postseason standout Jordan Montgomery.
Nola was a vital part of the Phillies’ success over the last two seasons, throwing 48⅔ innings over nine postseason starts and striking out more than five times as many hitters as he walked. Armed with a 92-mph fastball he commands exceptionally and one of the best curveballs in the game, Nola fashioned himself one of the best control artists in the game, the sort of skill set the Phillies expect to age well.
In his career, Nola is 90-71 with a 3.72 ERA. Over 1,422 innings, he has struck out 1,582, walked 371 and allowed 169 home runs.