Aaron Nola: No pressure to sign long-term deal with Phillies

ESPN logo
Friday, February 16, 2024

CLEARWATER, Fla. --Aaron Nola never felt pressure to sign a long-term contract during spring training last year, instead becoming a free agent after the season and quickly agreeing to a $172 million, seven-year deal to remain with the Philadelphia Phillies.

"It's definitely off my shoulders," Nola said Friday. "The contract talks were in the back of my head. I can't control that stuff."

After the Phillies won the 2022 NL pennant and reached the NL Championship Series last year, Philadelphia management was intent on keeping Nola.

"The No. 1 goal in the offseason was sign Nola," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. "We got that done."

Selected seventh overall in the 2014 amateur draft, Nola has spent his entire career in the Phillies organization. The 30-year-old right-hander is entering his 10th big league season and could become the longest-tenured pitcher in team history, surpassing Steve Carlton's 15 years.

Nola, who lives in nearby St. Petersburg, said there were no guarantees Philadelphia would re-sign him.

"I've been blessed to come up when I came up, in a rebuilding phase, and to be on the team we are now," he said. "It's not every day you get to play with pretty much the same team for three straight years. That's pretty cool."

He struggled at times in last year, finishing 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA. But he excelled in the playoffs with a 2.35 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 23 innings.

"I had to prepare myself for that possibility after the season," Nola said, adding that his wife preferred him staying with Philadelphia. "We know the city, we know how the fan base is. I'm blessed to be here. I love it here."

Nola has proved to be durable. His 1,065 innings from 2018 on are second-most behind New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole.

"I love pitching with Aaron," said fellow Phillies starter Zack Wheeler, entering the final season of a $118 million, five-year contract. "When he goes out there, he deals. He's thrown top three innings in the league; it's not easy to do. He works really hard and he's a competitor."

Nola's presence in the clubhouse and happy-go-lucky personality has rubbed off on teammates and coaches.

"He's down to earth, chill, fun to be around," shortstop Trea Turner said. "He's always going to show up in those big moments. That's why we want him, why we need him. I didn't want him to leave."

Wheeler said this week he would like to sign a new long-term deal with the Phillies,

"Everyone's on the same page and wants the same outcome," Turner said. "We all think this is one of the best places to play and to win."