Over the last few days I’ve been asked my thoughts on the Philadelphia Phillies’ signing of Jake Arrieta. Arrieta signed with the Phillies for $75 million on a 3 year term. This is a brilliant contract in my opinion the fact that this deal is only a 3 year term is what makes this a great move for Philly.
The Philadelphia Phillies reside in a big revenue market, and therefore can afford to “splurge” on Jake Arrieta even though they are “Rebuilding”. Arrieta himself in his introductory press conference said that the Phillies even though they are rebuilding can win some ball games this season and I absolutely agree with him on that idea.
The Phillies have an opportunity to truly “sneak” up on the National League. Now having a bonafide ace in Arrieta to anchor the young pitching staff followed by one of the most underrated future aces in baseball Aaron Nola, the Phillies rotation can hold their own. The Phillies have a bullpen that will be lead by veteran submariner Pat Neshek and a guy like Hector Neris. Having reliable relievers to call upon and a veteran starter like Arrieta around the young core that the Phillies have put together is a smart move. The investment in Jake Arrieta will pay dividends for guys like the aforementioned Aaron Nola but also may have an even bigger impact on a guy like Vince Velasquez.
Now when it comes to Velasquez camps are split as to whether or not he can truly make it as a starter or if he would be better served going to the bullpen. FanGraphs ZIPS projection system has Velasquez pitching about 134 innings to the tune of a 4.35 era. If you go by FanGraphs steamers projection he would only pitch 106 innings to a 4.66 era. The fact that the metrics have him valued so differently just goes to show how evaluators also see him differently. But getting around a guy like Jake Arrieta who can show him a routine to get into to greatly improve his actual performance so that it matches up with his overall potential.
The signing of Arrieta along with the signing early in the off-season of Carlos Santana gives a young Phillies team some veteran leadership. It gives them two players who have played on winning ball clubs and can bring that winning mentality into the clubhouse and onto the field.
Now let’s address the elephant in the room about the signing of Arrieta….
- Yes his rate stats (era, ip, strikeouts) numbers have been trending in the wrong direction.
- Citizens Bank Park is a tiny bandbox of a stadium that balls can fly out of easily
- Arrieta is 32 years old
These are legitimate concerns for the Phillies however there are somethings that should also be noted about the Arrieta signing
- After not being signed until mid March that Arrieta will feel that he has something to prove.
- Arrieta is known as an extremely hard worker and that hard work and preparation should give the young rotation a role model inside the clubhouse
- Arrieta can earn an extra $40 million dollars if he keep himself in Cy Young contention in the third year of the deal and unlock the 2 years and $40 million incentives to make the deal a 5 year $135 million dollar deal.
With Arrieta onboard look for the Phillies to truly surprise people with just how competitive they can be. Similarly to a ball club that was said to be rebuilding last season and made it to within one game of the World Series. Now I’m not saying that the 2018 Philadelphia Phillies can be/do what the 2017 New York Yankees did, but I think that the Phillies can have a team that competes and makes things very interesting in the National League Wild Card race.