By JED WEISBERGER
Reports indicate there has been some contact between the Phillies and Jake Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras.
In fact, Phillies MLB.com beat reporter Todd Zolecki reported Philadelphia GM Matt Klentak might consider a 3-year contract for the right-hander, who will turn 32 March 6 and remains unsigned.
He has lost a bit off his pitches – two fastballs – one a sinker – a change-up, slider and curve since his magical 22-5, 1.77 season in 2015, but he just might help steady a young Phillies pitching staff. He could push the Phils, who are on the rebound, to a .500 mark.
This is not as zany as it seems. Even with the 3-year, $60 million pact the club gave first baseman Carlos Santana to lure him from Cleveland, the Phils’ payroll is – at most – in the $70 million neighborhood.
That Santana signing will inject some life into the club’s South Philadelphia ballpark, easily one of the best in which to watch a game and to work in. When Citizens Bank Park is alive, it’s a great baseball environment with passionate support. Arrieta would enhance that.
The Phils have struggled in recent seasons, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Arrieta would really light the flame.
So, what if he’s not as good as he was in 2015, which was seriously a season in which everything went right for him, he could serve as a solid mentor to guys like righty Aaron Nola, who was 12-11, 3,54 with 184 strikeouts in 2017, and other starters such as righties Jerad Eickhoff, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and up-and-coming kids like Ricardo Pinto and Franklyn Kilome.
The Phils’ bullpen appears to be in decent shape with Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter leading the way and some kids with experience filling other spots.
So, what do the Phils offer a pitcher of Arrieta’s stature? Despite Boras aiming for some long-term deal, Klentak should offer him the same 3-year, $60 million deal he gave Santana. It fits easily as there is money in the hopper in the City of Brotherly Love.
Arrieta wearing red shoes – and the Phils are bringing back powder-blue road uniforms – would serve a few positive purposes:
- As mentioned, a young staff could use the influence of a pitcher who struggled early in his career and became a Cy Young winner as a leader.
- The feeling is he and new Phillies manager Gabe Kapler would fit each other like a glove.
- It would confirm the Phillies are serious in improving sooner rather than later. Their farm system is no slouch.
There have been murmurings about the Cubs “knowing something” in not bringing Arrieta back. It’s no secret, the swinging strikes are down. Such is life when one passes 30.
Speaking of that, the three-year Phillies deal would carry Arrieta through his “Age 34″ season. If all goes well, with certainly a stronger club in 2021, keep him in South Philly.
Whether this happens or not, who knows? Washington, desperate to reach the World Series, may cough up a 5-year deal and overpay. The view here, however, is there’s nothing silly about Arrieta becoming a Phillie.