The Phillies are “having dialogue” with free-agent starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, though Philadelphia appears to be interested in signing the 31-year-old to a short-term deal, creating a gap between the two sides.
Arrieta’s reluctance to sign a short-term deal is understandable, as this will likely be his only opportunity to sign a big free-agent deal. But with spring training workouts underway and Yu Darvish’s six-year deal with the Cubs having been the only major one signed by a starting pitcher this offseason, the odds of Arrieta getting a massive five- or six-year deal seem to be growing slimmer.
Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young winner, posted a 3.53 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 163 strikeouts and 55 walks over 168.1 innings in 2017. His numbers have gradually regressed since 2015, though, and that regression has coincided with a consistent drop in his four-seam fastball velocity. With Arrieta already having eight big-league seasons under his belt — and lacking a tremendous history of success prior to his arrival in Chicago — it’s quite easy to see why he hasn’t developed as much interest as Darvish did this offseason.
If he ended up in Philadelphia, Arrieta would serve as a co-ace with Aaron Nola in a rotation that is currently the weak spot of the Phillies’ roster. A potential Arrieta signing would represent the second major free-agent acquisition of the offseason for the Phillies, who are currently projected to have the lowest payroll in baseball. They signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million contract back in December.