Addition of Arrieta advances Phillies timeline to contend

Phillies sign Jake Arrieta
Gabe Kapler walked through the dugout just before Sunday's contest with a smile from ear-to-ear. He knew the Phillies were closing in on a deal that would turn the club into a compelling National League contender.

Within hours the deal was official. Jake Arrieta and the Phillies agreed to a three-year deal worth $75 million. His addition does not mean the Phillies are guaranteed a postseason berth, but it makes the possibility of playing meaningful baseball late into the season a reality.

"I knew this was an org that was hungry to win," Arrieta said at his introductory press conference on Tuesday. "There's no reason this organization can't get back to the winning ways they had a few years ago. The fans are hungry. You saw the Eagles win the Super Bowl, and that makes the other teams in this area hungry to get to that level."

Arrieta, 32, won the NL Cy Young Award with the Cubs in 2015, going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA. The right-hander has since remained one of the best starters in baseball over the past two seasons, going 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA in '16 and 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in '17.

Arrieta originally was seeking a seven-year deal, but as the market thawed and his demand lessened the Phillies pounced. The organization was never concerned about the financial aspect but rather wanted to avoid being locked into a player on with a long-term deal.

"Jake's one of the best pitchers in baseball," said Phillies general manager Matt Klentak. "This is a big moment for our franchise. We're thrilled."

Arrieta has missed three weeks of Grapefruit League action, but he said he's been throwing 50- to 65-pitch bullpen sessions every two or three days and his arm feels great.

“My body is in tremendous shape,” Arrieta said. “I feel like we’ll probably sit down and game-plan and decide how quickly I get into a game and how many pitches I’m able to throw right away and develop a program to get me ready for the opening week of the season because that’s exactly what I intend to do. The workload has been good. Obviously, I haven’t been in a game yet, but I’m a quick learner and I like my chances."

The Phillies figured to be improved this season, but the club was eyeing 2019 as a realistic time to contend for the postseason. Signing Arrieta pushes the timeframe up a year and demonstrates the organization's faith in the talent currently on the roster.

"I intend to come here and win right away," said Arrieta. "Even though we're technically in a rebuild, I think all the other players would agree with me -- we're here to win, rebuild or not. One thing I can promise to Phillies Nation is that we're always going to fight."
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

Managing Editor

No comments: