One of the offseason’s major free agents finally came off the board today, as Jake Arrieta agreed to a three-year, $75MM contract with the Phillies that will become official once the right-hander passes a physical. Here is some of the early reaction to the deal…
- “For the Phillies, this was as close to a no-brainer as $25 million per season gets,” David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. Murphy argues that the Phillies were simply in such dire need for starting pitching that a quality arm like Arrieta was too good to pass up, even at a significant price for a still-rebuilding team. Though Arrieta’s performance dipped in 2017, Murphy notes that even Arrieta’s down year still more or less equaled Aaron Nola’s numbers, so “in essence, the Phillies will have added another Nola even if Arrieta’s 2017 is his new normal.” Even if Arrieta declines further, the three-year length of the deal means that he won’t be much of a long-term burden on the Phils’ spending abilities.
- The threat of such a decline, however, makes this signing “a strange one” for the Phillies, in the opinion of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (subscription required). Arrieta’s peripherals and velocity were both down in 2017, and Law wonders if “this is a Tim Lincecum situation where there’s no actual injury but he’s just wearing down after a great peak.” Even if Arrieta stabilizes his performance or regains some of his old form, Law questions the wisdom of a contract that will likely deliver most of its value before the Phillies are truly ready to contend.
- “The Padres had more than passing interest in Jake Arrieta”, Dennis Lin of the Athletic tweets, but the $25MM average annual value of Arrieta’s contract was too high for San Diego’s liking. The club was known to have been at least considering the idea of going after the right-hander, who could’ve joined Eric Hosmer as the second major Scott Boras client to (surprisingly) sign with the Padres this winter. Lin feels the Padres are likely to stick with their current rotation mix rather than add another starting pitcher, though “there are fans of Alex Cobb in the organization.”
- The Nationals had been mentioned as a speculative landing spot for Arrieta for much of the offseason, due to both the Nats’ possible need for another starter and Boras’ well-documented relationship with the Lerner family. As Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com notes, however, “Nats folks insisted from the beginning Boras was trying to make them more interested in Arrieta than they were.” Even if Washington was more likely to engage in Arrieta’s market if the price dropped, it seemingly never got low enough for the Nationals to make a strong bid.