According to FanGraphs WAR to dollars calculation, Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola’s production during the 2018 season was worth $45.1 million. In his first of three arbitration seasons, Nola isn’t going to sniff that amount of money. However, it doesn’t appear that his representatives and the Phillies agree on just how much is a fair market value for the 25-year-old righty to make in 2019.
Teams and arbitration eligible players had until 1 p.m. Friday afternoon to exchange proposed salary figures for a potential arbitration hearing. It’s not clear what numbers the Phillies and Nola’s representatives submitted, but per ESPN‘s Jeff Passan, no deal for 2019 was reached, meaning the two sides are set to have an arbitration hearing. The date of said hearing isn’t yet known.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors projects that Nola will make $6.6 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. However, Nola finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2018, going 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 5.6 fWAR in 212.1 innings. His camp likely submitted a figure in excess of $6.6 million. Though the two sides can reach a deal before a potential hearing, it’s very possible they don’t, meaning a panel will be left to determine whether it’s more appropriate for Nola to make the salary that his camp submitted or the one that the Phillies did.
The two sides not reaching a deal isn’t a sign that Nola may not be long for red pinstripes. The New York Yankees didn’t reach a deal with their ace, Luis Severino, either. It’s a business, the two sides will go to arbitration – assuming a deal isn’t reached in the meantime – and Nola will be on the mound for the Phillies on Opening Day.
After the 2007 season, the Phillies went to an arbitration hearing with Ryan Howard, who had hit 127 home runs since replacing an injured Jim Thome as the starting first baseman in the summer of 2005. Howard won his case with a record $10 million settlement, three million more than the Phillies offered. The Phillies would win the World Series the next season, with Howard signing a three-year/$54 million extension that bought out his remaining arbitration years prior to the 2009 season. Notably, the Phillies went to Howard and signed him to a now-infamous five-year/$125 million extension in April of 2010, which didn’t begin until the 2012 season.
So in the grand scheme of things, a contested arbitration hearing didn’t hurt the Phillies relationship with a player that turned out to be a franchise icon. It’s unlikely to do so with Nola.
The Phillies, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, reached agreements with reliever Hector Neris ($1.8 million) and starter Jerad Eickhoff ($975,000) Thursday evening. Friday morning, the club avoided arbitration with left-handed reliever Adam Morgan by agreeing to a $1.1 million deal for 2018, per Robert Murray of The Athletic. Since the publication of this article, the Phillies have announced they agreed to deals to avoid arbitration with their remaining arbitration eligible players: Cesar Hernandez, Aaron Altherr, Jose Alvarez, Maikel Franco and Vince Velasquez.
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