The Phillies are reportedly in agreement with right-hander Aaron Nola on a seven-year deal, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the agreement’s guarantee sits at $172MM. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that the deal features no team options or opt-outs. Per Nightengale, Nola is set to undergo a physical today before the deal becomes official. Reporting earlier this morning suggested talks between the sides were picking up steam.
Nola, 30, was selected seventh-overall by the Phillies in the 2014 draft. He was a quick riser to the big leagues, making his MLB debut shortly after the All-Star break in 2015 at the age of 22. His rookie season saw him post a respectable 3.59 ERA (107 ERA+) and 4.04 FIP across 13 starts in the majors. It was a preview of the reliable, back-of-the-rotation production Nola would provide the Phillies with throughout his early twenties: he posted a 3.94 ERA (106 ERA+) across the first three seasons of his big league career, though a 3.38 FIP in that time suggested there was more potential yet to come for the young right-hander.
That potential was unleashed during the 2018 season, which proved to be a breakout campaign for Nola. The then-25-year-old righty posted a sterling 2.37 ERA while racking up 224 strikeouts across 212 1/3 innings of work. That’s good for a 27% strikeout rate, which when combined with a 7% walk rate and just 17 home runs allowed on the season left Nola with a sterling 3.01 FIP. The performance not only earned Nola his first career All Star appearance and a third-place finish in NL Cy Young award voting that year, but also an extension with the Phillies: the sides agreed to a four-year extension with a club option for the 2023 season shortly before the 2019 season began.
While Nola never quite replicated that incredible 2018 campaign over the life of his extension, he’s remained one of the most durable starters in the league over the past half-decade. Since the start of the 2018 season, only Gerrit Cole has thrown more innings than Nola’s 1065 1/3 figure. While Nola’s ERA of 3.65 is dragged down by difficult 2021 and 2023 seasons that saw him post results closer to that of a league-average starter than an ace, his 3.38 FIP over the past six seasons is a top-ten figure among arms with at least 700 innings of work across that timeframe. That leaves him with a whopping 25.5 fWAR accumulated over the past six seasons, an excellent figure topped only by Cole, Nola’s co-ace in the Phillies rotation Zack Wheeler, Max Scherzer, and Jacob deGrom.
More to come…