The top remaining MLB free agent is off the board.
Right-handed starting pitcher Jake Arrieta has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $75 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in a deal that was first reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia. Arrieta can opt-out of the contract following the 2019 season, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports is reporting that there is an interesting wrinkle in the deal.
Philadelphia could potentially make the contract a five-year deal worth up to $135 million if they decide to trigger a two-year extension clause in Arrieta’s contract before the opt-out date. The two extension years would start at $20 million per season, but it could end up reaching $30 million per season depending on the number of starts Arrieta makes in the first two seasons of the deal, and where he finishes in the Cy Young voting.
Prior to the Arrieta deal, the Phillies had the lowest overall payroll in baseball at $45.3 million, per Spotrac. With Arrieta scheduled to make a hefty $30 million in 2018, that will bring the Philadelphia to the 26th ranked payroll in the league, giving the Oakland Athletics baseball’s lowest payroll at $57.1 million.
Arrieta is the second major free agent acquisition by the Phillies this season, joining the signing of first baseman Carlos Santana, who was given a three-year deal of his own worth $60 million as one of baseball’s first major signings this off-season.
The 32-year-old Arrieta spent the last five seasons of his career with the Chicago Cubs after being traded to Chicago from the Baltimore Orioles in 2013. In Chicago, Arrieta went from one of the baseball’s worst pitchers, to being an underrated pitcher, and then a star pitcher. Without him, it’s likely the Cubs wouldn’t have won the 2016 World Series over the Cleveland Indians in seven games, or reach the heights of success that they did because Arrieta was apart of the team. Chicago elected not to re-sign Arrieta this off-season after signing Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood.
Arrieta went 14-10 with a 3.53 earned run average in 30 starts for the Cubs in 2017, and finished strongly with a 2.28 earned run average in the second half of the season, silencing some of his doubters that were starting to speculate that he could be starting to decline. While his velocity has dipped every year since his historic 2015 season, it’s not impossible to grasp Arrieta finding it once again.
In Philadelphia, Arrieta will pair with Aaron Nola at the top of the Phillies rotation, and those two will be followed by Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Nick Pivetta to round out the rotation. There’s a good chance Arrieta won’t be ready for the start of the season since he took so long to sign and it’s unclear how much throwing he’s done, but Arrieta will still significantly improve Philadelphia’s chances to make the playoffs in 2018, and you know they’ll be happy with that.
Here’s the full breakdown for Arrieta’s contract:
2021: $20,000,000 & could reach $30,000,000 via incentives
2022: $20,000,000 & could reach $30,000,000 via incentives
For his career, Arrieta is 88-56 with a 3.57 earned run average and 1,070 strikeouts over 1,161 innings of work.
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