More Sports:

November 21, 2023

Aaron Nola is where he wants to be: With the Phillies, chasing a World Series

Aaron Nola signed a seven-year, $172 million deal to remain with the Phillies and still with the same goal of capturing a championship.

There was never a day in his major league career when Aaron Nola had to think about being anywhere else but Philadelphia, nor did the Phillies ever have to think about him being anywhere else. 

So this past month has been different for everyone. 

Nola, as a free agent for the first time, got to field offers from other clubs and see what else could be out there, while the Phillies were intent on doing what they could to re-sign him, but ultimately...

"No, I wasn't confident," club president Dave Dombrowski said bluntly from Citizens Bank Park on Monday.

"Anytime someone enters free agency, you never know what will happen. So, no. I wasn't confident by any means. I was hopeful."

And in the end, there was a way, addressed rather quickly too. 

Nola agreed to a seven-year, $172 million contract on Sunday, keeping the longest-tenured active Phillie in red pinstripes through 2030 and the top of the rotation between him and Zack Wheeler intact for 2024, while affording the front office some time to evaluate further needs and potential upgrades ahead of baseball's winter meetings in early December. 

And for Nola, he'll remain with the only organization he's ever known, continuing to live in the only city he and his expecting family ever wanted to be. He has a chance to be a career Phil now too, but above all, further opportunity to help accomplish the mission of a World Series title. 

"Yeah, I think in 2022, the first time in a while since we've been in the playoffs and then making the World Series, we experienced that as a team and it just makes you want it even more," Nola said during his re-introductory press conference down at the ballpark on Monday. "Then last year was obviously really tough. But to taste that and have that right in front of us, kinda drives us a little bit more.

"There's nothing like playoff baseball, especially in this town. It's really addicting to be out there and play in front of this crowd, and I think I'm speaking for everybody in our clubhouse: We just wanna win it for this city and win it for this organization."

But, once again, there's more work to be done to have the best shot at getting there. 

Sitting beside the veteran right-hander at the podium on Monday, Dombrowski identified that while the Phillies, as they currently are, may not necessarily have any glaring positional or pitching needs, more bullpen help definitely wouldn't hurt, and neither would another glove in the outfield. 

Additionally, there's the possibility that the Phillies aren't quite done building out their rotation either, as a pursuit of Japanese star right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto could reportedly still be in the cards – though Dombrowski did say at the tail end of Monday's press conference that he does consider the rotation set for next season. 

"We don't really have a glaring need," he said. "But we will continue to look to see how we can get better."

In a process that likely just got a whole lot easier now that there's no more wondering about Nola's future. 

"Yeah, I was obviously, it was kinda tough at the end of the year after we lost [the NLCS]," Nola said of the uncertainty. "Like I said, I always wanted to be here, but you go into free agency, the reality of it is that you don't really know yet...But I'm just grateful that we got this worked out and got it worked out early."

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports