The Phillies’ opening for established starting pitching is well known. Less well known is what/if they plan to address it right now.
There have only been a handful of primary characters repeatedly mentioned as potential Phillies acquisitions on the current pitching scene: Yu Darvish, who signed with the Cubs, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, who are mid-level starters meant to make a softer impact than a true ace, and Jake Arrieta, the current frontline starter linked to the Phillies solely—until now—by theories.
But mouths are open and words are coming out of them, according to Jon Heyman.
Phillies and Jake Arrieta are having dialogue. Phils people (MacPhail, Klentak, Jordan, etc.) love him from their days in Baltimore together. Phils would prefer shorter term tho, so there’s a gap.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 20, 2018
And why shouldn’t they be talking? The money is there, the future is there; not right there, but close. Arrieta’s current team spent their money on Darvish, and the Brewers, the team making most of the moves this winter, hadn’t seemed to inch forward too far on either starter.
All of the Phillies/Arrieta rumors this off-season have been generated by posts like this one, in which it is explained why the pairing makes sense—or, like John Stolnis wrote just days ago, why it doesn’t:
It’s plain to see they don’t want to give Jake Arrieta what he’s asking for in free agency (whatever that is). They’d almost certainly be willing to do a high annual average salary deal for three years, but they are desperate not to have a contract on the books that will be dead weight in 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond. Klentak has said numerous times he wants this team to be playing October baseball for the next 10 years, not just one year.
The Phillies aren’t on the cusp of contending tomorrow, and don’t truly have to do anything, but every day of “Be Bold” t-shirts and comparisons to the 2017 Houston Astros makes standing pat seem contradictory to the tone being set early in camp.
Of course, this is how most camps are trying to establish themselves at this point in February: Anything’s possible! Get on board! Work hard! We’re going places! It wasn’t until this morning that the news started coming from outside the internet on Arrieta and the Phillies. Check back in later, when Arrieta could be the Phillies’ biggest off-season acquisition since Carlos Santana, or when the Phillies will continue to have an opening for established starting pitching. Either way, there is no emergency happening yet.