Although it ended with a World Series defeat, the Philadelphia Phillies had a dream season in 2022, one that saw them end the National League's longest postseason drought and get to within two wins of a championship. Then, a few weeks into the offseason, . The Phillies want to finish the job in 2023.
At some point soon, the Phillies will shift gears and begin to focus on retaining their own players. First baseman Rhys Hoskins will be a free agent after the season, ditto co-ace Aaron Nola. Philadelphia picked up their $16 million club option for Nola earlier this offseason, and earlier this week president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said they want to retain him long-term.
Here's what Dombrowski said about a possible Nola extension during a WIP-FM (94.1) interview Thursday (via the Philadelphia Inquirer):
"It's something we'd like to do," he said. "We want Aaron to be in the organization for a long time, no question about it. We love his abilities. I know he likes it in Philadelphia. So, that's something that will be in our mind.
"It's never easy to be able to get [an extension] done, but we'd love to keep Aaron in the organization for a long time."
Nola, 30 in June, has been one of the best and most durable pitchers in baseball the last seven years. He is seventh among all pitchers in WAR (29.9) and seventh in innings (1,228 1/3) since Opening Day 2015 despite not being called up until that July. Since 2018, Nola is third in WAR (23.9) and first in innings (871 1/3). He's been excellent. Don't let the only career All-Star Game selection (2018) fool you into thinking otherwise.
Carlos Rodón's new six-year, $162-million contract with the New York Yankees could make sense for the Philly ace. Nola has been far more durable throughout his career, though Rodón was more dominant on a per-inning basis the last two seasons. It's still a reasonable contract benchmark Nola's camp could reasonably ask for and the Phillies wouldn't insult him by offering.and noted that
The Phillies have sunk a lot of money into their roster the last few years -- they already have six players under contract at $20-plus-million salaries in 2024 -- and their top prospect, right-hander Andrew Painter, has ace upside and should debut at some point in 2023. Righties Mick Abel and Griff McGarry are highly regarded as well and aren't far from the big leagues themselves.
It's conceivable the Phillies could let Nola leave and let another team pay top dollar for what are likely to be his decline years, and replace him with Painter (or Abel or McGarry). That said, the Phillies would be at their best with Nola and Painter, plus their core players are all in their primes (Turner, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, etc.). Retaining Nola would put Philadelphia in the best position to win a championship with this group.