Posted on February 13, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
As they prepare to go full speed ahead toward being a competitive team, the Philadelphia Phillies have signed their ace to a long-term deal. On Wednesday, the Phillies announced that Aaron Nola has agreed to a four-year extension worth $45 million. There is also an option for the 2023 season worth $16 million.
Signing Nola to a long-term deal serves a couple of different purposes of the Phillies. First, it avoids an arbitration hearing with Nola that was scheduled for later this week. Going to arbitration can often cause a personal rift between a player and his team, so avoiding it is usually a plus. Moreover, Nola’s deal will take care of all of his remaining arbitration years and delay his free agency by at least a year. If Philadelphia ends up picking up the option on Nola’s deal, he will end up staying through what would have been his first two years of free agency.
Locking up Nola for the next four or five years likely means the Phillies will retain the young righty for his prime years. The 25-year old made big strides in 2017 but had a true breakout season in 2018. A year ago, Nola went 17-6 while posting a 2.37 ERA across 33 starts. He also finished third in the National League Cy Young voting. To be fair, it was a somewhat distant third behind Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, but Nola was considered a serious contender with those two for most of the season.
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Giving Nola a long-term deal reinforces the team’s belief that he will be their long-term ace. The Phillies took Nola in the 1st round of the 2014 draft in hopes that he would develop into a bonafide ace. He appears to be on his way toward fulfilling his potential and becoming a bonafide no. 1 starter. The Phillies have a slew of young pitchers who they hope will continue to develop. However, the job of rotation leader appears to be spoken for, and Nola’s extension speaks to that.
Of course, while Nola’s long-term future with the Phillies is secure, the club has big plans for the immediate future. They remained competitive in the NL East until September last season and have aspirations to be even better this season. Philadelphia has added the likes of outfielder Andrew McCutchen, catcher J.T. Realmuto, and reliever David Robertson to help them improve. The Phillies also remaining in the running for both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. However, the Phillies will also need an improved performance from their starting rotation in 2019, making Nola vital to their success.
After delivering over 212 innings and 17 wins last season, the Phillies will be hoping for a similar effort from Nola this season. Whether Nola can replicate that kind of success in back-to-back seasons remains to be seen. But after making a long-term commitment to him, the Phillies are confident that Nola is ready to lead their rotation for many years to come.