The wait is finally over for one of Major League Baseball’s best free agents available as Jake Arrieta has agreed to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The National League East just became a lot more interesting with this signing, as the Phillies will now have their rotation led by the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner. Arrieta becomes Philadelphia’s fourth big offseason acquisition along with Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, and Carlos Santana. It is clear that the Phillies are planning to make a legitimate run at the National League East division crown.
Arrieta, 32, is coming off a 2017 campaign that saw his performance dip from the elite level it had been at the previous two seasons. He went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 168.1 innings pitched. Arrieta also struggled with his command last season as he recorded 14 wild pitches, the second-highest number of his career next to the 16 wild pitcheshe threw in 2016.
Another concern surrounding Arrieta is the fact that his average velocity also took a dip in 2017. He went from throwing consistently in the high 90’s to hovering more around the low-to-mid 90’s last season, according to FanGraphs. Despite all of that, however, there is no denying that the signing of Jake Arrieta will immediately elevate the Phillies within their division.
His postseason experience will be invaluable to a young, up-and-coming team looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Arrieta will be anchoring a young Phillies rotation that consists of promising talents such as Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez.
The addition of Arrieta will give the Phillies a strong chance to contend in the upcoming 2018 season, especially considering the current landscape of the NL East division. The Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins are in the midst of massive rebuilds, and the New York Mets are a fringe team at best. The door is open for the Phillies to go toe-to-toe with the Washington Nationals, the perennial favorites in that division. Should Arrieta return to his 2015 or 2016 form then the he will undoubtedly become the biggest steal of the offseason.