By Sam Bush

So, is Aaron Nola pissed that he and the Phils couldn’t agree on a salary and they are headed to arbitration on Feb. 14?

No biggie, the top-shelf starter says.

Nola finished third in 2018 National League Cy Young Award voting, and the Phillies could not reach an agreement on a 2019 salary before a Jan. 11 deadline. Nola is seeking $6.75 million next season. The Phillies offered $4.5 million.

“No hard feelings between us,” Nola told at last night’s Philly Sports Writers Association banquet, where he received the 2018 Athlete of the Year Award. “I mean, this is baseball. It’s the business part of the game. Whatever happens, happens. We’re just going to go through it.”

Only one first-time arbitration starter has been paid more than Dontrelle Willis’ $4.35 million in 2006 and David Price’s $4.35 million in ’12. That was Dallas Keuchel, who received $7.25 million in ’16, after winning the American League Cy Young Award.

“I think I’ll be going in and sitting down,” Nola said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“I think there are players outside of our organization who get their feelings hurt in this process,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “I don’t see Aaron as the type of guy that would get his feelings hurt in an arbitration process.”

The Phillies have not gone to a hearing since 2008, when they lost to Ryan Howard. If Howard suffered any ill feelings after the experience, they vanished a couple years later when he signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension.

The Phillies could pursue a contract extension with Nola, although Nola said he has not heard if the Phillies are interested. A source said late last year that the Phillies were in no rush to work on extensions with Nola or Rhys Hoskins, particularly as they focus on signing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper in free agency.

“If they ever came up and said anything, I’d have to think about it,” Nola.

But for now, it appears the Phillies and Nola will be headed to a hearing. For what it is worth, Nola is 41-28 with a 3.35 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 1.139 WHIP and 3.85 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his career. Keuchel was 41-35 with a 3.58 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 1.250 WHIP and 2.75 strikeout-to-walk ratio through his first four seasons.

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