CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) – The Philadelphia Phillies made their boldest move yet.
Free-agent ace Jake Arrieta and the Phillies have agreed to a $75 million, three-year contract, a deal that could be worth up to $135 million over five seasons, three people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a successful physical.
Arrieta gets $30 million this year, $25 million in 2019 and $20 million in 2020. Arrieta has the right to terminate the deal after the 2019 season and become a free agent again, but the Phillies can void that right if they exercise club options for 2021 and 2022 at $20 million annually.
The price of both options can increase by up to $5 million based on starts in both 2018 and 2019: $1 million for 25 each year, and $500,000 each for 27, 29 and 31.
The option prices would increase to $28 million if he is among the top five in Cy Young Award voting in 2018 or 2019, and to $30 million if he is among the top three in either year.
Arrieta’s deal was likely to be announced Tuesday, one of the people said.
NBC Sports Philadelphia first reported the agreement.
The 32-year-old righty was among several top free agents who didn’t get a deal for six or seven years in a changing offseason market. The Phillies, who have plenty of money to spend, waited until the price was right for them.
Arrieta won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Chicago Cubs and helped them win the World Series the next season. He was 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA last year.
Arrieta was 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in five seasons in Chicago after starting his career in Baltimore. Phillies president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak worked for the Orioles when Arrieta pitched at Camden Yards.
Arrieta will join Aaron Nola atop the Phillies’ rotation on a team that finished last in the NL East.
The Phillies haven’t had a winning season since 2011, but now have added veteran slugger Carlos Santana, Arrieta and quality relievers to a young nucleus that could show considerable improvement over last season’s 66-96 mark.
New manager Gabe Kapler’s motto throughout spring training has been: “Be Bold.” Players and coaches have been wearing T-shirts with those words on them and they’ve been using the phrase often in interviews.
Signing Arrieta is a message that management is ready to move past the rebuilding process.
The Phillies already have a lineup that has potential to be dynamic and a bullpen that could be formidable. Now they’ve added a proven No. 1 starter to a slew of young arms in the rotation.
Arrieta has started at least 30 games in three straight seasons, but he’s only pitched more than 200 innings once – 229 in 2015.
Arrieta had a 4.67 ERA in first 16 starts last season, but finished strong, going 7-4 with a 2.26 ERA in his final 14 outings.
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