The Philadelphia Phillies and ace pitcher Aaron Nola have broken off talks on a contract extension, tabling the negotiations until after the season.
Nola, who is entering the final year of his existing deal with the Phillies, told reporters Saturday that he wants to focus on the upcoming season.
“Sometimes it comes to that, we’ll talk at the end of the season,” Nola said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m focused on this year. We want to win, so just focused on having a good season and having fun with these guys.
“We definitely tried to get it done, but it just didn’t work out right now. Doesn’t mean it’s over, by any means. We’ll talk at the end of the season and see what happens.”
Nola’s sentiments were echoed earlier Saturday by Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and the pitcher’s agent, Joe Longo.
“We had good communication with the Phillies,” Longo said in a statement. “We just couldn’t agree at this time. We’ll pick up the conversation again at the end of the season.”
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Nola, 29, will make $16 million this year on the team option included in the four-year, $45 million deal he signed before the 2019 season.
The right-hander has spent his entire eight-year career with the Phillies.
“We think the world of Aaron — quality pitcher, quality human being,” Dombrowski told reporters. “Sometimes you just get to this point where you’re just not able to consummate a deal that both sides feel comfortable [with]. Aaron knows we are very open-minded in trying to sign him at the end of the season. We’re hopeful he’ll remain a Phillie for a long time.”
Dombrowski and manager Rob Thomson agreed that halting the negotiations will let Nola, who will start Thursday on Opening Day, to focus on the upcoming season for the defending National League champions.
“I think between the two parties, it’s kind of a gentlemen’s agreement that if nothing is done by Opening Day, then let’s just focus on the season and on his pitching,” Thomson said, according to MLB.com. “And then start up again at the end of the year. I’m not really involved in that type of stuff.”
Dombrowski said the Phillies informed Nola of their interest in an extension after the World Series last year, but the sides didn’t start negotiating until spring training.
“I do find that — you’ve had all winter to get it done, so if you were going to get it done, it generally would have happened,” Dombrowski said. “You need to focus on the field and be in that position. I think it’s important from a club perspective that players focus on the field at that time. … He’s not a free agent, he’ll be pitching for us all year — including Opening Day. I’m looking forward to him having a big year.”
Nola went 11-13 with a 3.25 ERA in 32 starts last season, recording a career-high 235 strikeouts in 205 innings. The former first-round draft pick was an All-Star in 2018 and has concluded with at least 223 strikeouts in each of his past four full seasons, excluding the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
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