Which was bigger Phillies signing: Jake Arrieta or Cliff Lee?

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PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 15: Pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies talks with the media while general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. watches during a press conference at Citizens Bank Park on December 15, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 15: Pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies talks with the media while general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. watches during a press conference at Citizens Bank Park on December 15, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /
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An interesting discussion on Philadelphia sports radio Monday triggers an important question: was Jake Arrieta or Cliff Lee a bigger Phillies signing?

The Phillies finally got Philadelphia sports radio talking about them again with the signing of Jake Arrieta Sunday. It has pushed them into the wild-card conversation and arguably marks the end of the rebuilding process. It is their biggest acquisition in years.

While listening to 97.5 The Fanatic this afternoon, the hosts posed an interesting question: is Arrieta a bigger free-agent signing than Cliff Lee was?

When Lee signed with the Phillies, it was coming off a 97-65 2010 season that ended in disappointment with a loss in the National League Championship Series to the Giants. Former general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. snuck in to steal Lee away from the Yankees at the last minute. As soon as they called, Lee knew he wanted to return to Philadelphia.

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Lee was already a fan favorite after guiding the team to the 2009 World Series. In 12 regular-season starts, he had a 3.39 ERA, 1.130 WHIP, and 7.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In five playoff starts, he had a 4-0 record, 1.56 ERA, 33 strikeouts, and six walks.

Adding Lee created the “Phour Aces” rotation of Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Roy Halladay.

A town already enamored with the Phils rallied behind them the entire 2011 season until its even more disappointing end in the National League Division Series.

Lee made a name for himself in 2008 by winning the AL Cy Young before dominating in the World Series the next year. He returned to the World Series in 2010 with the Rangers the next year. Did his name carry more weight then than Arrieta’s does now?

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Arrieta’s career started inconspicuously with the Orioles in 2010. In three and a half years with Baltimore, he had a 5.46 ERA, 1.472 WHIP, and 4.0 walks per nine innings. He was traded to Chicago with Pedro Strop for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Arrieta was able to reinvent himself with the Cubs, posting a 2.73 ERA in four and a half seasons there. In 803 regular-season innings, he struck out 793 batters and walked 244. He was unreal in 2015, winning the Cy Young with a 1.77 ERA, 0.865 WHIP, and 4.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Arrieta was an instrumental part of Chicago’s 2016 championship.

He won both of his starts in the World Series against the Indians, allowing just three runs on five hits. Even though he left, Anthony Rizzo said Arrieta will always be a part of the Cubs family.

Next: Phillies designate Tommy Joseph for assignment

Arrieta and Lee were both huge acquisitions for the Phillies. Lee’s certainly had more fanfare as he was a former Phillie and the team was at its peak. However, Arrieta may be the final piece to bring this team back to relevancy in the major-leagues and certainly has his own reputation after breaking Chicago’s curse.

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