Spring training is underway, but there is still one free agent pitcher who could make a difference for the acquiring team: right-handed starter Jake Arrieta. Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, won the 2015 Cy Young Award and trails only two National League pitchers, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals, in wins above replacement over the past three seasons. His 2.71 ERA since 2015 is second best in the NL over that span. Last season he went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 30 starts last season for the Cubs, striking out 163 batters and walking 55 in 168 1/3 innings pitched. His repertoire features two fastballs — a four-seam that complements his sinker — plus a change-up, slider and curve. Unfortunately, he lost almost two miles per hour on both his fastballs last year and saw his swinging strike rate on those pitches drop from 8.9 percent in 2016 to 6.3 percent in 2017, calling into question just how much he has left in the tank for upcoming seasons. That could be a key factor as to why he remains unsigned. But his potential is still tantalizing and the Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly been inquiring about his services, with Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writing “the Phillies would consider a three-year contract for Arrieta.” Philadelphia’s General Manager Matt Klentak, however, cautions against making too big a commitment to an aging pitcher like Arrieta.
Jake Arrieta won’t help the Phillies much, but could boost the Nationals
Washington Post | Feb 21