Nola may be next after Alvarado nets an extension

Phillies stay busy with their bullpen after inking new deal with Seranthony Domínguez

February 18th, 2023

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Is Aaron Nola next?

The Phillies on Friday morning announced that they signed left-hander to a three-year contract extension with a 2026 club option. A source told that Alvarado will be paid $3.45 million this season, $9 million in 2024 and $9 million in '25, with a $9 million club option or a $500,000 buyout for '26.

Alvarado could have become a free agent following this season.

The Phillies are making a lot of people happy these days, and they want to keep it going. On Thursday, they announced a two-year, $7.25 million contract extension for right-hander Seranthony Domínguez. The club is working on a contract extension for Nola, too, with both parties exchanging figures, sources said, confirming a report in The Athletic. Nola has said on multiple occasions that he wants to remain in Philadelphia. There is some optimism that a deal can be struck before the end of Spring Training.

An extension for Nola will be pricey. The Phillies signed Taijuan Walker 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 outperformed them, too. Nola 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 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 the Phillies lock up Nola, he will be the 11th player under contract through next season, joining Trea Turner (2033), Bryce Harper (2031), Nick Castellanos (2026), Walker (2026), Alvarado (2025), J.T. Realmuto (2025), Kyle Schwarber (2025), Domínguez (2024), Matt Strahm (2024) and Zack Wheeler (2024).

Alvarado, 27, became the 10th on Friday. He was something of a reclamation project when the Phillies acquired him from Tampa Bay before the 2021 season. He threw hard, but he could not throw strikes. He had elbow and shoulder issues. He gained too much weight. He fell out of favor with the Rays, who were happy to trade him.

Alvarado had a 4.20 ERA in 64 appearances with the Phillies in '21, along with 68 strikeouts and 47 walks in 55 2/3 innings. He posted a 7.62 ERA in his first 17 appearances in ‘22 before Philadelphia optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in May.

Alvarado returned in June, and he became one of the best relievers in baseball. In his final 42 regular-season appearances, he posted a 1.66 ERA, to go with 64 strikeouts and 14 walks in 38 innings. Batters whiffed at his cutter 55.7 percent of the time, the ninth-highest whiff rate of any pitch by any reliever in the Majors (minimum 50 swings).

“Baseball’s not easy,” Alvarado said. “If you’re not prepared with your mentality, if you’re not coming here every day to compete, if you don’t respect the uniform, you’re out. I looked in the mirror, I said never give up.”

Nola bounced back. Alvarado said he will bounce back, too, from his final memory of 2022, allowing that towering game-winning home run to Yordan Alvarez in Game 6 of the World Series.

“I’ve watched it,” Alvarado said. “That’s baseball. If you’re not pitching, if you’re not playing, nobody can hit you.”