Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers game four of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 18, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. He struck out 163 in 1681/3 innings.
The Arrieta signing, plus other free agents and some rising talent, is enough to get Phillies fans dreaming. He'll join Aaron Nola atop the Phillies' rotation on a team that finished last in the NL East.
Arrieta is 32 years old and it's a fact that he's lost some velocity on his fastball. The Phillies open the season on March 29 in Atlanta against the Braves.
Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award victor and 2016 MLB World Series champion with the Cubs, agreed to a three-year, $75million deal with the Phillies on Sunday. Adding Neshek and Hunter to an already-solid bullpen should only help. According to baseball-reference.com, Arrieta's 162 game average brings a 15-10 record in 35 games with a 3.57 ERA. Nick Pivetta (8-10, 6.02 ERA) and Ben Lively (4-7, 4.26 ERA) have each shown potential but have been inconsistent. The contract is reportedly for three years and worth $75 million. The three-year length of the contract is extremely favorable to Philadelphia. Before the Arrieta signing, Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projected the Phillies for 78 wins, a figure that should rise two or three ticks with the former Cy Young victor onboard.
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"I trust we'll either go into the (season) with a new toy", Phillies new manager Gabe Kapler said in January, "or we'll pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of (young) pitchers a really healthy look".
The option prices would increase to $28 million if he is among the top five in Cy Young Award voting in 2018 or 2019, and to $30 million if he is among the top three in either year. It's probably Philadelphia's biggest free-agent signing since the club signed pitcher Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million deal in 2010. Owners seemed reluctant to spend as they had in the past. But the sun was shining over Clearwater, Opening Day was drawing near, and the Phillies, with their ace in place, were pointed due north. Philadelphia had money to spend and needed a veteran pitcher.
As he alluded to in the letter posted to Twitter, Arrieta was dealt to the Cubs in 2013 after struggling in Baltimore (20-25, 5.46 ERA). He spent four and a half seasons there and it was where he re-invented himself. That type of workload will take pressure off the Phillies' other starters and relievers. Phillies president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak worked for the Orioles when Arrieta pitched at Camden Yards.
Arrieta can now the spend the summer finding out the answer to that question.