It took much, much longer than expected, but free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta found a new home, reportedly joining the Philadelphia Phillies on a reported multi-year contract, per Jim Salsbury of CSN Philadelphia.
The deal is for three years and $75 million, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, was 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 30 starts for the Chicago Cubs in 2017, with 163 strikeouts and 55 walks in 168⅓ innings. He made $15,637,500 in 2017 with Chicago in his final season of salary arbitration before qualifying for free agency.
He suffered a velocity dip to start the season, posting a 4.92 ERA through his first 10 starts. Agent Scott Boras compared Arrieta to Max Scherzer, who had a similar velocity dip in 2014 but still signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Washington Nationals before the 2015 season.
“I’m just talking about what the elite do,” Boras told the Chicago Sun-Times in May. “We’re going to sit here and evaluate a player on a 60-day moment, or a 10-start moment, when he has three years of history? Don’t do it; that’s not fair.”
Arrieta recovered with a 2.82 ERA over his final 20 starts of the regular season, then allowed just two runs in his two postseason starts, winning one.
Though his 2017 season wasn’t as good as his Cy Young Award-winning year in 2015 — 22-6, 1.77 ERA, 236 strikeouts in 33 starts — Arrieta’s numbers over the last three years compare favorably to the last three pitchers to sign $200 million contracts as free agents — Scherzer, David Price and Zack Greinke.
Jake Arrieta and the $200 million free agent pitchers
Arrieta declined a qualifying offer from the Cubs, turning down a one-year, $17.4 million deal. Chicago will receive a compensatory 2018 draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B, in between the second and third rounds.
The Phillies slot Arrieta in a starting rotation that also includes Aaron Nola and a lot of question marks. The long-term deal for Arrieta makes sense for Philadelphia since they have so little future payroll otherwise committed. Cot’s Contracts had the Phillies with just over $42 million in guaranteed salaries on the books for 2019.
The club also made a forward-thinking move earlier this offseason in signing free agent Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million contract to play first base.