Phillies righty Jake Arrieta won’t exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, keeping him in his deal with the Phillies for the 2020 season, the Associated Press reports. Arrieta will earn $20MM for the 2020 season, the final year of the three-year, $75MM pact he signed with Philadelphia in March 2018.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported in October that Arrieta was going to remain with the Phillies, and indeed, it became increasingly obvious throughout the veteran right-hander’s injury-marred year that the opt-out clause wouldn’t be a factor. Arrieta revealed in July that he was trying to keep pitching despite suffering from a bone spur in his throwing elbow, and while he toughed it out as long as possible, Arrieta eventually hit the injured list in mid-August and soon underwent season-ending surgery.
The end result was a 4.64 ERA, 2.16 K/BB rate, and 7.3 K/9 over 135 2/3 innings for Arrieta, easily his least-impressive performance since his early-career struggles as a member of the Orioles in 2010-12. Arrieta posted by far the largest hard-hit ball (38%) and home run (19.4%) percentages of his career, while his 7.1% swinging-strike rate was the third-lowest total of his career.
Arrieta’s stay in the 2017-18 free agent market was a lengthy one, as he was hampered by the qualifying offer and a feeling amongst some teams that he was beginning to a decline following a good but not great 2017 season with the Cubs. Over two seasons with the Phillies, Arrieta has a 4.26 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 51.4% grounder rate, and 2.30 K/BB rate — decent numbers, though hardly what the Phils expected from a pitcher earning $25MM in average annual value.
The best-case scenario for Arrieta and the Phillies is that the bone spur was the root cause of his struggles, and he’ll rebound for a healthy and productive age-34 season. That would be a welcome boost to a Phillies team that was let down by its starting pitching almost across the board last season, though Philadelphia is expected to be pursuing some upgrades this winter. A good year from Arrieta would also increase his chances at another multi-year in free agency next offseason, as a repeat of his 2019 numbers would likely limit his market to only one-year offers.