Posted on March 11, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After an offseason plagued by inactivity, free agents are finally flying off the shelves. The latest is pitcher Jake Arrieta, who many considered one of the top two pitchers available this winter. Arrieta has agreed to a three-year deal worth $75 million. Arrieta is a major signing for the Phillies, who have quietly had a productive offseason.
The 32-year old Arrieta has spent the last four and a half season with the Chicago Cubs. During that time, he has become one of the game’s best pitchers. Arrieta has two no-hitters on his resume and also took home the 2015 Cy Young Award. He was also instrumental in helping the Cubs reach the NLCS in each of the last three seasons and winning the 2016 World Series.
To be fair, Arrieta’s numbers dipped this past season. He experienced a bit of a hangover following Chicago’s title run in 2016. However, Arrieta rebounded in the second half of the season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 12 starts after the all-star break. He was also exceptional during his two starts for the Cubs during the postseason.
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Despite making at least 30 starts and averaging 18 wins over the last three seasons, Arrieta was unable to land the five-year deal he coveted. There was speculation that he may take a one- or two-year deal so he could retunr to the free agent market. In the end, he and the Phillies found a happy medium, agreeing to a three-year deal with a high average salary.
For the Phillies, landing Arrieta is the perfect cap to their offseason. Philadelphia has endured a six-year playoff drought, including three last-place finishes in the NL East. However, a lot of the young talent in the organization appears to be ready for the majors. Earlier this winter, the Phillies signed veteran slugger Carlos Santana to help solidify the middle of their lineup. The signing of Arrieta has a chance to do the same for their starting rotation.
The Phillies have a deep contingent of young starters, many of whom have shown flashes of potential over the past year or two. However, none of them have distinguished themselves as a possible ace. Arrieta could be the ace the Phillies need to start moving toward the top of the NL East and compete for a playoff spot.
The likes of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Ben Lively look like they will be reliable starting pitchers for the Phillies. A few others could also end up being important pieces in Philadelphia’s rotation. But Arrieta gives the Phillies a proven ace to lead their rotation, something they will undoubtedly need if they’re going to get back to the postseason in the near future.
Of course, whether the addition of Arrieta is enough to get the Phillies to the playoffs in 2018 remains to be seen. However, a pitcher of his caliber is no doubt a piece that was previously missing in Philadelphia’s puzzle. If nothing else, he makes the Phillies a lot more interesting heading into the season.