Arrieta arrives, ready to push Phils' title timeline

From ESPN - March 13, 2018

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jake Arrieta arrived at Philadelphia Phillies' camp on Tuesday morning with a new contract and a message for the National League: The team is ready to bump up its timetable to contend.

Arrieta, one of the top free agents on the market this offseason, waited until two weeks before Opening Day to finalize a guaranteed three-year, $75 million deal that could max out at five years and $135 million. In a news conference at Spectrum Field, he made it clear he thinks the Phillies are further along in their rebuild than public perception suggests.

"The fan base is hungry,'' Arrieta said. "You see the Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl, and it makes the other teams in the city that much hungrier to get to that level. I feel like we are not far away. I think arebuild' is a loose term. A rebuild does not mean you ca not win now. I intend to come in here and win right away, even though we are technically in a rebuild. And I think the other players agree with me. We intend to win -- rebuild or not."

Arriving in style?
Welcoming committee?
Phils hat?
@JArrieta34 is ready to get to work. #BeBold

Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) March 13, 2018

The Phillies, who finished last in the NL East at 66-96 a year ago and have not posted a winning season since 2011, have been among MLB's most active spenders in a slow market. They signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a $60 million deal in December and spent a combined $34.25 million on veteran relievers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek. The Phillies' ability to make a late, somewhat surprising strike on Arrieta reflected the state of the market and some concerns over Arrieta's 2017 numbers and long-term durability.

The Phillies targeted Arrieta as a veteran starter to bring stability to a young, evolving rotation. Aaron Nola, the Phillies' top returning starter, is 24 years old. Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez, the two starters behind him, have yet to break through because of injuries and inconsistent performance. Last year, Philadelphia's starters ranked 10th in the NL with a 4.80 ERA and ninth with a 2.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

"Jake, in our opinion, was the best player available this offseason. Period. Not just the best pitcher -- the best player,'' said Phillies owner John Middleton. "Handing him the ball every fifth day is going to be great. But it's what he does in the clubhouse and the dugout and for the other players on the days he's not pitching that's going to make a huge difference. We recognize that, and that's why we really, really wanted him.''

After Arrieta passed his physical exam in Philadelphia on Monday, Middleton's private plane flew him to St. Petersburg, Florida, for Tuesday's news conference. A greeting committee welcomed him upon arrival.

Arrieta's creatively structured contract pays him base salaries of $30 million, $25 million and $20 million through 2020. He can opt out of the deal after 2019, and the Phillies have the ability to void the opt-out and exercise a two-year option that could keep him with the organization through 2022.


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