PHILADELPHIA – Dave Dombrowski said last month that keeping Aaron Nola in the Phillies rotation was the team’s No. 1 offseason priority. He meant it.
Multiple sources told MLB.com on Sunday that the Phillies and Nola have agreed to a seven-year, $172 million contract, which is pending a physical. Nola is taking that physical on Sunday. The team has not confirmed the deal.
Once official, Nola’s return will ensure the Phillies have two top-flight starters atop the 2024 rotation, with Zack Wheeler as the team’s ace. Nola has pitched 1,065 1/3 innings since 2018, second most in baseball to Gerrit Cole. Nola’s 26.0 WAR in those six seasons is fifth, according to Baseball Reference. Only Max Scherzer (29.8), Cole (29.7), Wheeler (26.4) and Jacob deGrom (26.1) have been better.
Nola, 30, is also coming off an excellent performance in the 2023 postseason, which helped take some of the sting out of a down regular season and – crucially – boosted his free-agent stock. The right-hander allowed just two earned runs over 18 2/3 innings in his first three starts for Philadelphia before being tagged for four runs in 4 1/3 innings in Game 6 of the NLCS. Nola finished the postseason with a 2.35 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 23 innings.
Nola’s regular season was not as pretty; he posted a 4.46 ERA last year, never falling below 4.00 or surpassing 5.00 from April 28 on. His strikeout rate dipped to 25.5 percent, his lowest mark since 2016. He gave up 32 home runs, tied for seventh most in MLB. For a pitcher who posted a 3.25 ERA in 2022 and a career-best 2.37 mark in a stellar 2018 campaign, it was definitely a step back. Nor was it Nola’s first: His ERA was 3.87 in 2019 and an alarming 4.63 in 2021. Each previous time, though, Nola has bounced back.
To that point, along with his strong work in October, his 2023 season had other good omens: a strong 5.7% walk rate and a 34.7% chase rate (misses / swings) that ranked in the 96th percentile in MLB.