Former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher and current free agent Aaron Nola is being pursued by the team's biggest foe.
According to MLB Network insider Jon Morosi, the Atlanta Braves have shown a lot of early interest in acquiring Nola during this 2023 MLB offseason.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 13, 2023
While a deal with Atlanta isn't imminent, news that Nola might be joining forces with the Braves' bitter rival must have the city of Philadelphia seething. Nola, whom the Phillies drafted with the seventh overall pick of the 2014 MLB Draft, finished fourth in 2022 NL Cy Young voting and has started every opening day game for the Phillies since 2018.
Although Nola's 2023 season wasn't as successful as 2022 (he finished the 2023 regular season with a 4.46 ERA, compared with his 3.25 ERA in 2022), he is still considered one of the top pitchers in this year's free agency class. Multiple teams are expected to be interested in signing Nola, who will likely obtain a contract of around six years and $200 million.
While the Braves are a major player in the Nola sweepstakes, there's still a solid chance that he will be back in Philly by 2024 opening day. Both Nola and Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski have expressed a desire for the Phillies' former ace to return to the team in 2024.
Prior to Nola's Game 2 start of the 2023 NLCS, he was asked whether he'd like to re-sign with the Phillies. He responded with, "Yeah, I hope so. I really do. ... I love it here. Obviously, it's the only place I've been. I came up through some special times in the rebuilding era and getting to witness and be a part of a lot of different type of teams."
Dombrowski said during a recent press conference that, "[Nola] is our priority to try and sign. I can't tell you that I feel 100% confident that we're going to get it done, but we would like to sign him and we'll be aggressive in trying to make that happen."
Perhaps this news can soothe the Phillies faithful. Yet, talk is one thing. Dombrowski will need to put his money where his mouth is if he wants Nola to re-sign with the Phillies instead of with the Braves or one of the other teams that have shown interest in Nola, such as the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees.
Even though Nola's 2023 season was somewhat disappointing, he'll still secure an excellent contract this offseason. Only time will tell which team gives it to him.
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