Looking at Phillies 2019 Pitching Free Agent Options

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta /

Should the Phillies try to sign a starter before the 2018 season or are they better off waiting until next offseason to pursue a free agent?

Finally, one of the most uneventful off seasons in MLB history is over. Some sizzle was finally added to the hot stove as Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer and J.D Martinez were all signed this month. However, big names are still unsigned like Jonathan Lucroy, Greg Holland, Mike Moustakas, and of course, potential Phillies target Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta remains unsigned due to two reasons. The first is Scott Boras’s absurd requested contract. No club is giving a 32 year old 150 or 200 million dollars over five years, much less seven. The second is the incredibly hyped up 2019 free agent class.

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Moustakas, Martinez and Hosmer do not compare to the opportunity to acquire Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson or the man who will receive the largest contract ever, Bryce Harper. But are Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Arrieta that insufficient compared to the next round of free agent pitchers?

Here are my personal top five 2019 free agent pitchers, not including guys like Clayton Kershaw or Chris Sale who could opt out of their deals.

  1. Dallas Keuchel (2017: 14-5 2.90 ERA 125 SO Career: 64-52 3.65 ERA 792 SO)
  2. Gio Gonzalez (2017: 15-9 2.96 ERA 188 SO Career: 117-86 3.64 ERA 1600)
  3. Matt Harvey (2017: 5-7 6.70 ERA 67 SO Career: 34-35 3.51 ERA 592 SO)
  4. Garrett Richards (2017: 0-2 2.28 ERA 27 SO Career: 40-34 3.53 ERA 558 SO)
  5. Drew Pomeranz (2017: 17-6 3.32 ERA 174 SO Career: 42-42 3.67 ERA 621 SO)

Over the past two seasons Garrett Richards has started a total of 12 games. He is 1-5 in those starts. Over seven seasons, Drew Pomeranz has only started in all of his appearances three times. Over his last 36 games, Matt Harvey is 9-17 with a 5.78 ERA. In 10 career seasons, 2017 was only the second time Gio Gonzalez had a sub-three ERA.

Meanwhile, take a look at Arrieta’s numbers.

2017: 14-10 3.53 ERA 163 ERA Career: 88-56 3.57 ERA 1070 SO)

They aren’t exactly flawless either. Neither class has the perfect option. It ends up with comparing Arrieta to Keuchel.

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If you think the Phillies should avoid the former Cub due to his contract demands, it won’t get easier when Keuchel, another Boras client, comes along. Yes, Arrieta did finish with a higher season ERA, but post All-Star break he finished with a great 2.28 ERA. Over the past four years, Keuchel has had three seasons with a sub three ERA and two with an above 5.0 wins above replacement. Arrieta has had just two sub-three ERA and WAR above five seasons.

Here is a look at their past four seasons, their prime years:

  • Arrieta: 119 Starts, 751.1 Innings pitched, 64-29, 2.67 ERA, 756 SO, 1.028 WHIP, 19.3 WAR
  • Keuchel: 111 Starts, 745.2 Innings pitched, 55-34, 3,15 ERA, 631 SO, 1.140 WHIP, 9.8 WAR

Statistically, Arrieta has been better over the past couple years. Each also has a Cy Young Award and World Series ring on their resume.

I still believe the Phillies should sign Arrieta. I believe he is the best available option in either of the next two seasons. With that being said, I do not believe the Phillies should sign him to any deal longer than four years 100 million.

How are the Phillies supposed to lure Harper or Machado away from the Yankees or Cubs following a 70 win season? Arrieta has said he likes working with younger players and works out with Phillies outfielder Nick Williams. Signing Arrieta to a three or four year deal is the best option for the team.

Next: Phillies keeping contact with pitcher Lance Lynn

If you still have doubts ask yourself this. Who would you rather have in the 2020 rotation with Sixto Sanchez and Aaron Nola: Jake Arrieta or Drew Pomeranz?