On Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies officially signed former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta.
OFFICIAL: #Phillies have signed RHP Jake Arrieta to a multi-year contract.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) March 12, 2018
The pact is a three-year, $75 million dollar contract and gives the Phils another ace to pair with Aaron Nola. Arrieta has long been rumored as a potential fit in Philly, so it’s nice to finally have him on board. With the move comes somewhat of a power shift in the National League, as the Phils are seemingly ready to compete for a playoff spot this season, but there are a few more reasons to be excited about the signing:
Phillies Rotation Gets a Huge Boost
After finishing 18th in ERA (4.55) last season, the Phillies are primed for a significant improvement with Arrieta joining the rotation. The former Cubs ace has finished with a sub-3.70 ERA in each of the last five seasons- including a mind-boggling 1.77 ERA in his 2015 Cy Young campaign. Arrieta is a major upgrade from every starting pitcher not named Aaron Nola currently on the roster, and should stabilize a shaky unit.
The Phillies did a great job negotiating the contract with the widely-known stubborn agent Scott Boras. Arrieta reportedly wanted a six-year contract, while the Phillies wanted something in the 2-3 year range, and the sides were able to find a deal that satisfies both parties:
Jake Arrieta: 30M, 25M, 20M. opt out after '19. phils can void opt-out by extending for 2 years at $20M. escalators can raise '21 & '22 salaries to 25M based on games started (starting at 25 games, to 31 games), & to 30M w/ 1/2/3 in cy young voting in '18 or '19, to 28M with 4/5
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 12, 2018
The front-loaded deal comes with several opt-out clauses and performance-based incentives, so the Phillies weren’t just forced to shell out a ton of money for an aging vet. With the current construction of the contract, the Phillies will only pay Arrieta beyond three years if he is still performing at a high level, which should motivate him to keep being a dominant force. This is clear win-win from a financial standpoint.
Front Office is Ready to Spend:
The Phillies have been amongst the richest ball clubs in the MLB for years due to a lack of pricey long-term contract commitments and a mega-money television deal with Comcast. Phils GM Matt Klentak has been adamant that the team would spend heavily when the time is right, and it appears that time is upon us. After spending upwards of $50 million this offseason alone, the Phillies are finally players in free agency again. It’s been a long time coming, but it comes at the perfect time (as Klentak promised), as the 2018 free agent class is loaded with superstars. Philly was already expected to be amongst the heaviest suitors for studs like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and the Arrieta signing makes them a much more attractive option.
The Phillies have spent the better part of the last six seasons in the cellar of the National League, but that could change this season. Although they aren’t expected to be gunning for a World Series title just yet, the team seemingly has enough to at least compete for a Wild Card berth. This would mark the Phillies first playoff appearance
since they were the #1 seed in 2011, and would go along way towards building their resume for future free agents to look at.
All in all, I think this was an excellent move for the Phillies and one that absolutely needed. Good pitching is arguably the most important thing to have in order to contend, and the Phils just vastly improved their rotation. The 1-2 punch of Nola and Arrieta is amongst the best in the majors, and I’d expect the team to be a lot more successful and exciting in 2018.
Mandatory Credit: Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports