Nola rejects qualifying offer -- but remains Phils' No. 1 priority

November 14th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- As expected, rejected the Phillies’ qualifying offer before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, two sources told

He will remain one of baseball’s most coveted free agents.

If Nola accepted the Phillies’ offer, he would have been signed to a one-year, $20.35 million contract for 2024. It would have been a stunning decision, because Nola is seeking a lucrative multiyear contract that could exceed $200 million. For now, if Nola signs with another team, Philadelphia will receive a compensatory pick following the fourth round of the 2024 Draft.

It would be a small consolation prize for the Phils, who have said they hope to re-sign the right-hander. Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said late last month that keeping Nola in Philadelphia is the team’s No. 1 priority.

“We love him,” Dombrowski said. “He’s been tremendous for the franchise. He’s pitched very well for a number of years. He’s a Phillie. We hope to retain him, but if we don’t, to me, that would be our No. 1 area -- we would need to replace him. We need to be in position where we have somebody else that will be a starting pitcher of quality in the rotation. So, yes, it’s either Aaron or somebody else.”

Nola, 30, will have no shortage of suitors in free agency. He was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. His 30.4 WAR from 2017-23 is third best among pitchers behind Max Scherzer (37.0) and Gerrit Cole (32.3), according to Baseball Reference. Nola has thrown 1,233 1/3 innings over the past seven regular seasons, trailing only Cole's 1,279 2/3. Nola also ranks third in strikeouts (1,393) and seventh in wins (78) since 2017. Among pitchers with at least 60 starts in that same span, he is 12th in WHIP (1.11) and 11th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.31).

The Braves have been mentioned recently as a legitimate possibility for Nola, but it will be interesting to see if Atlanta is truly willing to be the highest bidder. Nola’s Southern roots (he was born and raised in Baton Rouge, La., and played college baseball at LSU) and close relationship with Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz (who was with the Phils from 2016-18) have been mentioned as positive forces in a potential Nola-Atlanta union, but money almost always talks the loudest in free agency.

If Nola signs with Atlanta, St. Louis or any of the other teams in need of starting pitching, the Phillies have options to replace him. Don’t be surprised if they make a run at free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who is more than five years younger than Nola. There are other free-agent starters on the market, too, including Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Snell and Marcus Stroman.

Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow could be traded this offseason, as well.