Jake Arrieta reveals he knew his career was ending when he was still with the Phillies years ago
It’s unofficially official.
"“I haven’t signed the papers, but I’m done,” Arrieta said. “It’s time for me to step away from the game. At some point, the uniform goes to somebody else, and it’s just my time.”"
Like many ballplayers at the end of their careers, he tried to recapture his glory days with the Phillies. They game him a three-year deal for $70M ahead of the 2018 season, but it didn’t pan out.
But Arrieta’s retirement announcement also included the revelation that he knew his career was coming to an end years before it did, back when he was with the Phillies in 2019:
"“I was at a point where I was doing everything I possibly could to make things work. Unfortunately, I came to this realization around the ’19 season that, man, my body feels amazing. But the shoulder, the old whip, it doesn’t rotate the way it used to. And whether I like it or not, that’s just kind of where things were going.”"
With the Phillies in 2019, Arrieta posted a 4.64 ERA over 24 starts, his least productive season since his early years with the Baltimore Orioles. He correctly assessed that things were winding down, as his numbers got worse from there. He made 24 starts pitching for the Cubs and Padres in 2021, to the tune of a 7.39 ERA.
While Arrieta’s career was bookended in mediocrity, the middle included some phenomenal pitching. In 2015, he led MLB with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts, and led the NL with a career-high 33 starts. His career-best 1.77 ERA earned him that year’s NL Cy Young award and a sixth-place finish in MVP voting.
While it’s admirable that Arrieta tried to keep his career going, there’s also nobility in knowing when to walk away. Or as Kenny Rogers famously sang,
"“You’ve got to know when to hold ’emKnow when to fold ’emKnow when to walk away”"