Aaron Nola Chooses Loyalty Over Larger Paycheck, Joins Rank of Two Phillies Stars Who Signed For $460 Million, but Wanted More Than Money

Published 11/20/2023, 1:41 PM EST

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Free agency is a period of uncertainty and a myriad of rumors. As one of the most sought-after free agents until yesterday, Aaron Nola was a subject of discussion, especially after rejecting the qualifying offer from the Philadelphia Phillies. Amidst the chatter, Nola has made a move that displays his true intention toward his home team.

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With his actions, the 30-year-old has established that the emotion toward the city is far superior to a fat paycheck. This is not the only time loyalty has overpowered the glittery appearance of money elsewhere. As the right-handed pitcher has joined hands with two other fellow teammates, the sentiment of being a true Philly oozes out. 

Aaron Nola Remains a Philly by Ditching Big Offers to End His Free Agency

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The three-week inactivity of the free agent market has finally broken. MLB stalwart Aaron Nola and the Phillies reached a seven-year contract agreement on Sunday, the team announced. This locked up Philadelphia’s longtime rotation reliable hurler. The exact value of the deal was not disclosed by Philadelphia at first, but some sources communicated to ESPN that it was worth $172 million. 

The 10-year veteran of the Phils has been one of the steadiest players of the franchise since his promotion to the big leagues after 2014. He started the most games (175) and threw the second-most innings (1,065⅓), closely behind Gerrit Cole, especially over the last six seasons. 

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The Atlanta Braves, the Phillies’ NL East rivals, were rumored to be pursuing Nola early in the offseason in an attempt to add him to their rotation. However, he chose the East Coast. Now, that is a testament to how much he grew to love the city and its passionate fandom.

“You Guys Know How Philly Is”: Why Aaron Nola and Trea Turner Rejected Better Offers to Return Home, Explained by Bryce Harper

Approaching the weekend, the talks between the teams chasing Nola and his agents, Joe Longo and Garrett Parcell, intensified. The final two prospective future teams were narrowed down to Philadelphia and Atlanta. Eventually choosing the former, Nola signed the largest contract for a pitcher in Phillies history and the eleventh largest overall. But money is not everything. 

A Repeat of the Past: When Money Is Not Everything

There have been instances in MLB in the past where players emphasized commitment and growth rather than massive contracts. Now that’s a very mature outlook and as history is proof, has yielded positive results for the City of Brotherly Love. Take Bryce Harper, who signed a $330 million deal, for example. He once said, “I have all the money in the world, to do whatever I want with it. I have more money than I’ll ever know what to do with. It wasn’t about that.

When the former New York Mets starter Zack Wheeler signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, everyone knew he could have gotten more. Even Trea Turner did something along the same lines. When T2 turned away from the San Diego Padres, he knew what he was giving up but gaining at the same time. The Padres offered him a massive $342 million deal, but Turner knew he wanted to go to the East Coast. The rest is history! 

Trea Turner and Zach Wheeler: Nola’s Predecessors Who Also Signed for the Philadelphia Phillies on a Less Money

Wheeler agreed to a $118 million contract worth five seasons back in 2019. The Chicago White Sox had made Wheeler an irresistible offer that was greatly outbidding Philly, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. But Wheeler declined more money for the chance to play near his wife’s home state of New Jersey. It was a win-win. 

Turner was a member of the Washington Nationals for his first five and a half big-league seasons. The Florida-born and raised slugger, having played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in an 18-month run, experienced a taste of life on the West Coast. However, he decided to play for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2022, which is also closer to his wife’s native state. 

Reason Behind It: Love for Philadelphia Phillies

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Since the Pihls selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Nola has considered the Phightin’ Phils his home. Over the past few months, he has made multiple mentions about the progress the organization has made over the decade since he joined. Nola has found great comfort and a nurturing environment to develop his talent in the Phillies, despite some ups and downs during his tenure. That said, he wants to finish what he started, where he started. 

The franchise too is excited to welcome him again. The President of baseball operations of the Phillies said, “At the outset of this offseason, we made signing Aaron our top priority”. Dave Dombrowski added, “We are committed to winning, and having an individual like him in our uniform for years to come only helps us in that regard. Aaron has proven to be one of the best and most durable pitchers in our game for a number of years now, and when considering his leadership abilities and his character, it was very important for us to keep him a part of the Phillies family.

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With that, one thing is clear – the love for the Philadelphia Phillies overpowers all other factors. That’s a green flag for players who wish to build a solid career in baseball with a progressive team that only has consistent winning as their goal. The 2023 postseason was proof of that! 

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Written by:

Kanishka Prakash

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"Our identity is forged through consistent actions. True excellence is not a singular act; rather, it is ingrained in our daily habits." Since I was a teen, I learned that the best way I could express myself was by writing.
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Arunima Bhanot

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