John Middleton circled Jake Arrieta's name when he looked ahead "a while ago" at a list of players who could reach free agency after last season.
Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award victor and 2016 World Series champion with the Cubs, agreed to a three-year, $75 million deal with the Phillies on Sunday. But they waited and waited, and by late February heard numbers more to their liking - then needed about two weeks to hammer out a complex deal that includes an opt-out for Arrieta after 2019 that the Phillies can override by granting a two-year extension. Arrieta is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut in the coming days, after which there should be more clarity regarding his pitching schedule heading into the season. Arrieta was 2-0 in the seven-game series against Cleveland. "But what we can promise is that we're going to have conviction, we're going to fight, and we're going to win at the end of the day". Arrieta was to be introduced at spring training during a news conference on Monday.
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"I'm here to not only lead by example but to help the guys take that next step", Arrieta said.
"It's a business. Am I upset of frustrated? Maybe. But I'm here now". Alex Cobb, Jose Bautista, Matt Holliday, Melky Cabrera, Mark Reynolds and Greg Holland are among the players still unsigned.
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One of the marquee free agents in this year's class, Arrieta has had a surprisingly long offseason. "All the better for those who choose to be competitive but certainly it creates an irregularity in the system". With AP Photos.Tommy Hunter's biggest pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies came before he even took the mound for his new team. Both players are in the final year of their contracts.
The Phillies have been connected to Arrieta going back to the winter meetings. At the same time, the team, through the play of young building blocks such as starting pitcher Aaron Nola and slugger Rhys Hoskins, had gone 37-36 over their final 73 games, which the front office took as a signal the corner had been turned. Going to work every day was an honor for many reasons, from the storied history of the organization, to the high-character individuals I was surrounded by year after year.
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