Will Phils look to retain their homegrown ace?

January 22nd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

A few days after pitched a perfect game through 6 2/3 innings against Houston to help the Phillies clinch the third NL Wild Card spot on Oct. 3, a club official noticed an interesting update to the team’s franchise page on Baseball-Reference.

Nola had moved onto the list of the team’s all-time top 24 players, according to WAR. Specifically, Nola (29.6) had bumped Scott Rolen (29.2) to get there.

It was a good reminder of how historically well Nola has performed since the Phillies selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Nola has three top-seven National League Cy Young Award finishes and one NL All-Star appearance over the past five seasons. If the right-hander posts a 5.2 WAR this year -- he averaged 5.2 over his last five full seasons (i.e. excluding the 60-game 2020 campaign) -- he will move into 18th place on the all-time franchise list at 34.8 WAR, just behind Curt Schilling (36.3) and Dick Allen (35.3).

Rolen, Allen, Schilling … those are three players who someday could have plaques in the Hall of Fame.

Nola could move into the top 12 on the Phillies’ all-time WAR list as early as 2024, but only if he remains with the organization. He will become a free agent after this season, unless the Phillies sign their prized starter to a contract extension.

“Nothing’s really come up,” Nola said Thursday at the Strike Out ALS event that he and his brother Austin hosted in Baton Rouge, La. “They picked up the option, so I’m just going to focus on this year. I think the biggest thing I’m excited about is that we have almost everybody back, with a few great additions. We had so much fun last year and we pretty much have the same group this year, which is awesome. That’s rare.”

Philadelphia picked up Nola’s $16 million club option just two days after the World Series. It was a no-brainer. Another no-brainer: It will cost the team a lot more to keep him in a Phillies uniform beyond this year.

The club signed to a four-year, $72 million contract in December, an average annual value (AAV) of $18 million -- or $2 million more than Nola will make this season.

Carlos Rodón signed a six-year, $162 million contract ($27 million AAV) with the Yankees in December; Chris Bassitt inked a three-year, $63 million deal ($21 million AAV) with the Blue Jays; Jameson Taillon agreed on a four-year, $68 million contract ($17 million AAV) with the Cubs.

Before the offseason, Joe Musgrove signed a five-year, $100 million extension ($20 million AAV) with the Padres, while Luis Castillo inked a five-year, $108 million extension ($21.6 million AAV) with the Mariners.

Nola is younger than each of those pitchers. He has been better than them, too.

The Phillies' starter has thrown 871 2/3 innings over the past five seasons, over 100 innings more than the next pitcher's total (Castillo, 768 1/3 innings). Nola has a 23.9 WAR in that five-year span, which is better than Castillo (16.7), Rodón (12.1), Bassitt (12.0), Musgrove (10.2), Taillon (8.5) and Walker (4.7).

If he were to hit the open market, Nola could blow past Rodón's lucrative deal.

“If things come up, it would be great to say,” Nola said. “But we haven’t really talked about anything. Nothing’s come up.”

Back in February 2019, the Phillies signed Nola to a four-year contract extension in Clearwater, Fla. February 2023 in Clearwater would be an excellent place to announce another one.