Nola returns to Phillies on 7-year deal

November 19th, 2023

is now a free agent. MLB.com is keeping track of the latest news and rumors surrounding the right-handed starting pitcher.

Nov. 19: Nola, Phils have reached agreement
Aaron Nola's camp has reportedly reached an agreement with the Phillies on a seven-year, $172 million deal, pending physical, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman has also confirmed.

Talks between Nola and the Phillies had reportedly up over the past few days, per MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, with the club reportedly "optimistic" they could come to an agreement before Winter Meetings (Dec. 4-7) in part due to Nola's desire to remain in Philadelphia.

The Phillies were previously reported to have offered Nola a six-year deal worth about $150 million, with Nola's camp seeking seven years, $210 million.

Nov. 14: Yankees reportedly showing interest in Nola
Add the Yankees to the list of clubs showing interest in Nola. According to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, New York is "among the most active teams in the starting pitching market" and has Nola and Yoshinobu Yamamoto in its sights.

News of the Yankees' interest in Nola comes a day after Morosi linked the right-hander to the Braves and Cardinals

The incumbent Phillies have also publicly expressed interest in a reunion with Nola, though Morosi reported last week that the two sides did not seem close, and The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) wrote Monday that the team's inability to re-sign him to this point might be telling. Rosenthal suggested Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski might prefer a pitcher who misses more bats, such as fellow free agent Blake Snell.

Nov. 13: Braves, Cardinals express interest in Nola (report)
The Braves want to add a starting pitcher in free agency and are willing to pay up to get one, according to a report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subscription required). No player on Atlanta’s roster is due to make more than $22 million in 2024, but the club is willing to go higher than that for the right free-agent starter, per Rosenthal’s report.

Rosenthal points to Nola as a potential fit because he has a close relationship with Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who previously held the same role with the Phillies, and because he may prefer to sign with a team in the South. Nola, 30, is a native of Baton Rouge, La., and attended LSU.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, the Braves are one of two teams to express early interest in Nola. The other club is the Cardinals, who finished in last place in the NL Central in 2023 and openly covet pitching. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Wednesday at the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., that St. Louis is seeking "at least two starters." Nola, who has made a full complement of 32 starts in each of the past three seasons, would help stabilize the Cardinals' rotation.

Adding rotation depth is imperative for the Braves this offseason given how last season played out for the club. Max Fried made just 14 starts in 2023 and ended the regular season on the injured list with a blister before returning to start NLDS Game 2 on 17 days’ rest. Meanwhile, right index finger inflammation forced Charlie Morton to miss the NLDS, so the club had to rely on Bryce Elder to start Game 3. Fried and Elder combined to allow nine runs over 6 2/3 innings against the Phillies.

Looking ahead, Fried and Morton are both eligible for free agency next offseason.

The Phillies remain engaged with Nola, but Morosi reported last week that the two sides did not seem close to a reunion, and Rosenthal thinks their inability to re-sign him to this point might be telling. Rosenthal suggests Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski might prefer a pitcher who misses more bats, such as fellow free agent Blake Snell. The Phils also have been linked to right-hander Sonny Gray, who is not expected to be as costly as Nola or Snell.

Nov. 10: How close are the Phillies and Nola to a reunion?
On Thursday, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski spoke to MLB Network and said that the Phillies remained open to a reunion with Aaron Nola. It's unclear how close the two sides actually are. 

MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi reported on Friday that he doesn't get the sense that the two sides are all that close to a reunion. Morosi believes that Nola is going to explore the open market, see what kind of deals are out there for him and circle back to the Phillies if needed.

As reported by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Thursday, Nola is reportedly looking for a contract of around $200 million. Ranked as the No. 5 free agent by MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Nola could have a robust market based on his long track record of durability, success and ability to perform in October.

If a Nola reunion doesn't come to fruition, the Phillies will have to look elsewhere to fill his void. That could come in the form of Sonny Gray, who the Phillies are interested in according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi.

Nov. 9: Phils remain open to reunion with Nola
In an interview on MLB Network on Thursday, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, asked about the status of the Phillies' negotiations with Nola, appeared to leave the door open for the right-hander's return, adding that the club would consider its rotation "set" if they were able to keep Nola in Philadelphia.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Thursday evening that Nola is reportedly seeking a contract in the neighborhood of $200 million; Heyman also noted that the Phillies and Nola's camp were roughly $100 million apart in extension talks this past spring. While it isn't yet clear whether those failed negotiations will impact the Phillies' ability to retain Nola in the long term, they will likely face stiff competition regardless, with the Angels, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets and Red Sox all believed to be looking to bring in at least two more starters this offseason.

Nov. 1: What will Nola’s contract look like?
If Nola reached free agency last offseason, there’s a good chance his contract would have approached or exceeded $200 million. The right-hander was a 29-year-old coming off a season in which he recorded a 3.25 ERA with 235 strikeouts and 29 walks (8.1 K/BB) over 205 innings.

Nola will still be one of the top arms (non-Shohei Ohtani division) available on the open market this offseason along with Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery and Sonny Gray, but his stock has clearly dropped after he pitched to a 4.46 ERA over 32 starts during the 2023 regular season.

Though Nola did bolster his free-agent case during the playoffs, The Athletic's Jim Bowden (subscription required) predicts he will land a five-year, $125 million deal ($25 million average annual value), which is in the neighborhood of the five-year, $118 million contract teammate Zack Wheeler inked with the Phillies after the 2019 campaign.

The Athletic's Tim Britton is far more optimistic about Nola's value, however, not only predicting a longer deal (six years) but also a higher AAV ($30 million) on a contract totaling $180 million. Meanwhile, MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Nola will sign a six-year, $150 million deal.

Oct. 28: Where does Nola rank in upcoming FA class?
Coming off a fourth-place finish in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2022, Nola had a down year in his final season before free agency. His ERA jumped by more than a run, from 3.24 to 4.46, as did his FIP (2.58 to 4.03).

On a positive note, this marked the fifth time since 2018 that Nola made at least 32 starts and struck out 200-plus batters, and his WHIP (1.15) and K/BB ratio (4.49) were both still solid.

The 30-year-old, who has spent his entire career with the Phils, also ended the regular season with back-to-back strong starts and continued to perform well in the postseason, going 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA over 23 innings.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand ranked Nola fifth on his list of the Top 25 free agents in this year’s class and named the Cardinals and Giants as potential fits in addition to the incumbent Phillies.