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February 20, 2018

Report: Phillies in talks with free agent pitcher Jake Arrieta

Last week, the Phillies' three biggest decision-makers – team president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak, and manager Gabe Kapler – each expressed the desire to add starting pitching help before the start of the 2018 season. Naturally, they didn't want to seem overly eager, so each also added the caveat that adding a veteran arm to their young rotation isn't a necessity and they weren't planning on overspending in free agency.

"We’re open to adding a starter if it makes sense for us, but even if we don’t, we are confident that this starting pitching group is going to take a step forward because they are really talented and they’re healthy,” Klentak told reporters.

But that was last week.

On Tuesday, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported that the Phillies and agent Scott Boras are "having dialogue" about former Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. The soon-to-be 32-year-old righty is widely regarded as the best remaining starter on the market, with Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn rounding out the top three.

With the Phillies projected to have one the lowest payrolls in all of baseball, they have plenty of money to spend ... if they want to.

As Heyman alluded to, the two sides differ on the number of years involved. See, while giving a big contract to Arrieta won't impact their ability to sign free agents next offseason, it may in a few years, when the Phillies will presumably have several players on top-tier contracts. MacPhail admitted as much when he met with the media in Clearwater on Friday.

"It's my job to stay on top of that and see what makes sense," MacPhail said when asked about the prospect of adding a big-name free agent. "And that's really kind of the critical element, isn't it? When and where. I don't think anybody questions, or should question, the commitment ownership has shown in the payrolls it's had. It's our job as managing to make sure their resources are deployed as intelligently as they can to get us to the postseason as quickly as we can... 

"Money is not the issue. It's really more about what makes sense for us now. And you don't want to do anything impulsive because something is out there that you may or may not have anticipated."

And if the two sides can come to an agreement on years, perhaps by front-loading the contract, the Phillies might work for Arrieta. Here's more from Matt Snyder of

The Phillies make a lot of sense here, too. They aren't even to $70 million in estimated payroll for this coming season and they have large-market wherewithal. They likely have big plans for next offseason when the free agent class is loaded, but adding around $25 million per year to the ledger doesn't come close to keeping them out of bidding for a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado type deal. 

Arrieta's fit atop the rotation would be very good, too. The Phillies have some talented arms in Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez. Arrieta would give them a former Cy Young winner with nine career postseason starts and a World Series ring to help with those relatively inexperienced pitchers. He'd be the leader of the rotation in more ways than one.  []

Last season, Arrieta, who won the Cy Young in 2015, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 168 1/3 innings, including a 1.69 ERA in 11 starts in July and August. Here's a look at his career numbers:

2010 BAL 6-6 4.66 1.535 1.08
2011 BAL 10-8 5.05 1.458 1.58
2012 BAL 3-9 6.20 1.369 3.11
2013 BAL/CHC 5-4 4.78 1.327 1.46
2014 CHC 10-5 2.53 0.989 4.07
2015 CHC 22-6 1.77 0.865 4.92
2016 CHC 18-8 3.10 1.084 2.50
2017 CHC 14-10 3.53 1.218 2.96
TOT - - - 88-56 3.57 1.169 2.66

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