The Phillies have recently had ”dialogue” with the former Cubs ace and 2015 NL Cy Young winner, but they will only make a run at him if they can get him at their price. As far as Arrieta’s price, his agent, Scott Boras told Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports that the righ-hander should command a better deal than what Yu Darvish got when he inked a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs because of his “prestige value” of being able to pitch well in big spots.
Arrieta is three seasons removed from his Cy Young season in which he put together a 22-6 campaign with a 1.77 ERA and is two years removed from an All-Star year in which he also helped the Cubs win the World Series. In parts of five years with Chicago, Arrieta has gone 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and a 19.9 WAR in 128 starts plus has a postseason ERA of 3.08.
But, Zolecki and fellow MLB.com colleague Daniel Kramer point out the analytical reasons the Phillies should only sign Arrieta to a three-year deal at most and analytical reasons to “roll the dice” on a long-term contract. After all, Zolecki says the Phillies’ front office usually doesn’t make moves “based on gut feelings and intangibles like heart, grittiness or prestige.”
The reasons for Philadelphia only signing Arrieta to a three-year contract are because his drop in velocity on his fastball (95.2 mph to 92.2 mph), his increase in hard-hit rate (32.2 percent last season from 24.8 percent), and decrease in “topped” contact (47.8 percent to 35.7 percent) since 2015.
The big reason for the Phillies to take a chance on Arrieta are his second-half success last year due to the effectiveness of his sinker. He posted a 2.28 ERA and limited hitters to a .235 average in 12 starts in the second half because he threw his sinker 65.8 percent of the time compared to only posting a 4.35 ERA in 18 starts in the first half, where he threw a sinker only 58.1 percent of the time.
Another reason to go after a long-term deal was that Arrieta ranked 42nd out of 128 pitchers in “poor” contact in 2017, which is better than half the starters in baseball.