Arrieta signs with Phillies, wants to 'move the needle'

Florence Fletcher
March 15, 2018

Jake Arrieta put on a red No. 49 Philadelphia Phillies jersey for the first time and sent a message to his new teammates and fans.

"You see the Philadelphia Eagles won a Super Bowl", Arrieta, who signed a three-year deal worth $75 million with the Phillies, told the media on Tuesday morning. "We're going to have conviction and we're going to fight and we're going to win". The Phillies will have their first home game a week later on Thursday, April 5 at 3:05 pm EST when they take on another NL East division rival Miami Marlins. "He's going to take pressure off the younger guys". But they waited and waited, and by late February heard numbers more to their liking - then needed about two weeks to hammer out a complex deal that includes an opt-out for Arrieta after 2019 that the Phillies can override by granting a two-year extension. In addition to Arrieta, they signed Carlos Santana to play first base and enlisted Tommy Hunter and Pat Neskek for their bullpen. The team has been rebuilding the past few years with young prospects but has begun to sign veterans so they can start being competitive while developing young players.

Arrieta also said of his conditioning, via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, "My body is in tremendous shape". A rebuild doesn't mean you can't win now. "I feel like we're not that far away". After struggling heavily in Baltimore, Arrieta was traded to the Cubs in 2013. Earlier, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported talks with Arrieta were "heating up", with the Phillies viewed as the favorites to sign the 2015 National League Cy Young victor. He was 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and earned the NL Cy Young Award.

But with the NL East nearly laughably weak, particularly if Mets' starters again fail to stay on the mound, the Phillies can't be discounted as a sleeper contender. Arrieta was 2-0 in the seven-game series against Cleveland.

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"My body is in tremendous shape", Arrieta said. "Just looking across the room and seeing Jake Arrieta sitting there, it just brings a whole new confidence for a team".

"Am I upset or frustrated?" FanGraphs forecasts the Phillies for only 78 victories even after adding Arrieta into their calculations. "All the better for those who choose to be competitive but certainly it creates an irregularity in the system".

The Phillies have been connected to Arrieta going back to the winter meetings. Both players are in the final year of their contracts. Phillies president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak worked for the Orioles when Arrieta pitched at Camden Yards.

"This is a special situation for me", Arrieta said.

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