The Phillies are “having dialogue” with Jake Arrieta and his representatives, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). While there’s currently a “gap” between the sides’ bargaining positions, it seems there’s at least some real interest being explored.
Philadelphia has long been cited as a possible landing spot for Arrieta, but this is the firmest indication yet that they organization is really looking into the move. Of course, multiple recent reports have emphasized that the Phils don’t want to lock into a long-term deal to improve their rotation, and that motivation no doubt remains a major factor.
From Arrieta’s perspective, he’s now the top player left on the board (that is, MLBTR’s top 50 free agent list). Other Scott Boras clients are taking deals that feature front-loaded structures and opt-out opportunities, though that general approach may not quite meet with the Phillies’ interest. Perhaps there’s still some room for creativity in structuring a deal for Arrieta.
The obvious comp on this year’s market remains Yu Darvish, who landed $125MM from the Cubs — who reportedly at least checked in with Arrieta’s camp before finalizing things with Darvish. Other organizations no doubt share the Phillies’ interest in opportunism on the quality veteran starter — including, perhaps, the division-rival Nationals — so it’s still amply possible that interest from multiple quarters will push Arrieta into the nine-figure range.