Could Jake Arrieta’s contract go down as the Phillies’ worst ever?


In the 2017 offseason, the Phillies decided they need to make a big splash as they were coming out of a rebuild. That divebomb into the pool was signing Jake Arrieta for $75 million over 3 years.


It hasn’t worked out. What. So. Ever. In fact, the $20 million that Arrieta will make in 2020 could hamper the Phillies this offseason.

Why did the Phillies sign Arrieta in the first place? Is his contract the worst in Phillies history? Let’s Discuss.

Why Jake Arrieta?

A 2.73 ERA over 803 IP, that’s why. A 2015 Cy Young award, that’s why. A 2016 World Series, that’s why.

Jake Arrieta’s peak from 2014-2016 was insane. He went 50-19 with a 2.42 ERA and 5 shutouts. His 2015 Cy Young year was one of the most dominant pitching seasons in recent memory. Arrieta led the league in wins (22), complete games (4), shutouts (3), HR/9 (0.4), and hits/9 (5.9). He also posted a 1.77 ERA over 229 IP.

There were signs as early as 2016 that showed that Arrieta was regressing. In 2016 and 2017, he led the league in wild pitches. His ERA essentially doubled from 2015 to 2017.

The biggest red flag for Arrietta should have been the first half of his 2017 season. In his first 16 games for the Cubs, he carried a 4.62 ERA. Opponents batters had an OPS of .767 against Arrieta.

But, because of previous success, the Phillies gave Arrieta a 3 year $75 million contract.

Is it the Worst Phillies contract Ever?

Believe it or not, there are not a ton of bad contracts in Phillies’ history.

We all know Danny Tartabull got paid $2 million in 1997 and didn’t record a hit, but it wasn’t until the Jim Thome signing that the Phillies were considered big spenders. Even then, it was only about $12 million a year.

There are only 2 pitchers in Phillies history that I could think of that had what you could consider bad contracts.

In December of 2010, the Phillies signed 32-year-old Cliff Lee to a 5-year $120 million deal. Lee was by no means bad during his contract. In his first 3 years, he accumulated 19.6 bWAR. He also made All-Star games in 2011 and 2013.

It’s the end of the deal that isn’t pretty. Lee was paid $62.5 million to pitch 13 games, as he was injured in 2014. He made $25 million in 2014 and 2015 and made $12.5 million in 2016 (deferred money).

Jake Arrieta has recorded 3.8 bWAR in his first 2 seasons as a Phillie to the tune of $55 million. Advantage Arrieta.

The other contract I could think of is AJ Burnett in 2014. The Phillies paid the 37-year-old $15 million to go 8-18 with a 4.59 ERA. He led the league in walks (96) and earned runs (106). He was worth 0.2 bWAR. His next year, however, he went to his first All-Star Game with the Pirates, at age 38.

Burnett would have to have pitched 4 more years at $15 million per year to make what Arrieta is making. Since it was a 1-year deal, advantage Arrieta.

Jake Arrieta is hands down the worst Phillies pitching contract ever.

Them, there’s Ryan Howard’s $125 million 5-year extension.

From 2012-2016, Howard had a bWAR of -4.5. The fact that he was a fan favorite and Phillies icon gives him some hidden value. But still, it’s a horrendous contract and is still the worst.

Jake Arrieta has 2020 to change that, but hopefully, he doesn’t.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports