Phillies face tough decisions with 9 eligible free agents
By Matt Rappa
8. Jake Arrieta
When the Phillies signed veteran right-handed starting pitcher Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75 million contract following the 2017 season, the envisioned a better performance out of him than what he ended up producing in red pinstripes.
Spanning 64 starts and 352 2/3 innings over the past three seasons, Arrieta went 22-23 with a 4.36 ERA, 280-to-124 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 1.387 WHIP.
“A message I really want to send to not only the players, but Philadelphia in general and the entire Phillies nation, is that what we’re going to do here is that we’re going to promise a fight,” Arrieta said during his introductory press conference with the Phillies. “There’s no guarantee you’re going to feel good, have your best stuff or get a great night’s sleep the night before. But what we can promise is we’re going to have conviction. We’re going to fight. We’re going to win at the end of the day.”
Perhaps the thing Phillies fans will remember the most about Arrieta’s tenure in Philadelphia, other than his sub-par showing, is that he willingly pitched through injury in 2019 to try to get the team back to the postseason for the first time since 2011. Ultimately, those efforts went for naught then, as well as in 2020, with the team falling one game short of the eighth seed in the National League.
Arrieta is an 11-year veteran that has had several great moments during his career, just not with the Phillies. With the Chicago Cubs, he won the Cy Young Award, won the World Series, tossed multiple no-hitters, you name it. It will be interesting to see which teams have interest in Arrieta, who will turn 35 in March, moving forward.
7. Jay Bruce
Considering the Phillies acquired Jay Bruce from the Seattle Mariners in June 2019 for next to nothing, the deal will go down as one of the best for the team’s former general manager Matt Klentak. Had Bruce remained healthy since then the trade would be even more revered.
The 13-year veteran played a combined 83 games with the Phillies, slugging exactly 30 extra-base hits, including 18 home runs — coupled with 45 RBI. In a normal, 162-game season pace, that would equate to nearly 36 home runs and 90 RBI. Not bad numbers at all for an outfielder who arguably filled a bench role with Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen receiving most corner outfield playing time.
Bruce was on a $14 million deal in 2020, of which the Mariners were responsible for paying most of. The Phillies will likely choose to spend their money elsewhere if the three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner commands anything close to that figure in free agency.