An obvious decision for free agent Aaron Nola on Tuesday originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Phillies knew when they extended the one-year qualifying offer to Aaron Nola last week that he would decline it ahead of Tuesday's deadline for players to accept or reject.
The qualifying offer teams were able to give their eligible free agents this offseason was one year at $20.325 million. Nola, one of the top three starting pitchers on the free-agent market, will have no trouble finding a nine-figure contract and his deal could approach $200 million.
All seven players across MLB who received qualifying offers — Nola, Shohei Ohtani, Blake Snell, Sonny Gray, Josh Hader, Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman — had little to think about with this decision because greater riches await in free agency.
The dollar figure attached to the qualifying offer changes every fall and is the average of the top 125 salaries in Major League Baseball. When a player rejects it, his team becomes eligible for draft pick compensation if that player signs elsewhere.
Only 13 players have accepted a qualifying offer since the system was installed in 2012. The Phillies' lone example was Jeremy Hellickson in 2017.
Nola's decision to decline will mean the Phillies receive a compensatory pick after the fourth round of the 2024 draft if he signs with another team. Last summer, those compensatory picks fell between 132nd to 137th overall, a range that over the last 40 years included selections like Corey Kluber, Josh Bell, James Paxton, Mike Clevinger, Eddie Rosario, Nick Pivetta, Matt Vierling, Cole Irvin, Jake McGee, Jason Kipnis, Bret Boone, Chone Figgins, Javier Lopez, Ray Durham, Devon White and Pat Hentgen.
Since they exceeded MLB's luxury tax threshold in 2023, the Phillies' compensatory pick will come later than it would for more than two-thirds of teams. Revenue-sharing clubs receive a pick after the first round, while the pick for non-revenue-sharing clubs who did not exceed the luxury tax the prior season comes before the third round.
What happens if the Phillies sign a player who received a qualifying offer?
They would forfeit draft picks (their second- and fifth-highest) and up to $1 million of international bonus pool money. They've dealt with that penalty in consecutive offseasons after signing Trea Turner and Nick Castellanos.
This is the price the Phillies would pay, beyond the contract, if they were to sign Snell, Gray or Hader. It's an advantage that highly sought-after Japanese right-handed starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto has on Nola, Snell and Gray in free agency. The 25-year-old Yamamoto is looking at a contract in the $200 million range, as well. All the big spenders in major markets will strongly consider Yamamoto and the Phillies fit that description.