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Report: Phillies to sign Aaron Nola to four-year, $45 million extension

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Ken Rosenthal and Matt Gelb of The Athletic report that the Phillies and pitcher Aaron Nola are “on the verge” of entering into a four-year, $45 million contract extension. There is likewise a club option for a fifth year.

Nola, who was about to head to an arbitration hearing in his first year of arbitration eligibility, went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 224/58 in 212.1 innings last year, finishing third in the Cy Young balloting. This deal will buy out all three of his arb years and at least his first year of potential free agency. His second if the Phillies exercise the option.

It’s definitely a short-term bum for Nola. He was seeking a $6.75 million in arbitration while the Phillies were offering $4.5 million. If he were to continue on the course he’s been on, of course, he’d stand to make far more than the $11 million or so he’ll be averaging out to on the back end of this deal.

Such are the tradeoffs in signing a deal this early, of course. And, obviously, this was his choice, of course. Pitchers can get injured and 2018 could’ve been a fluke year, so entering into this deal gives him the sort of financial security he may not have otherwise had over the next 3-4 years. The Phillies, meanwhile, have their ace on lockdown at least through his age-29 season.

Skaggs Case: Federal Agents have interviewed at least six current or former Angels players

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The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.

There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.

Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.

In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.