Dan's Dugout: How Much Can Jake Jack Phils? • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: How Much Can Jake Jack Phils?



CLEARWATER, Fla. – He might not be ready by Opening Day but the Philadelphia Phillies don’t mind showing some patience. After all, they’re paying Jake Arrieta $75 million to push them into the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

Jake Arrieta has two no-hitters on his resume

The former ace of the Chicago Cubs, Arrieta won the National League’s Cy Young Award in 2015 and has had a couple of solid seasons since.

He’s already pitched half his schedule in Wrigley Field, though Citizens Bank Park is even more of a shooting gallery for hitters.

Arrieta’s mission is reversing his new team’s 66-96 record of 2017, when they were the National League’s least in the east. Teams have vaulted from worst to first before, though it’s a stretch to believe the Phils could finish ahead of the powerful Washington Nationals or determined New York Mets.

Still, a wild-card system that allows three teams from one division to advance, along with the two champions of the remaining divisions, gives the Phils hope.

So does rookie manager Gabe Kapler.

He knows the Red Quakers played .500 ball over its last 76 games and is banking on a better showing this summer.

Ripper Rhys Hoskins is starting his first full season

Having sluggers Carlos Santana, signed as a free agent, and Rhys Hoskins, a red-hot rookie following a midseason promotion last year, will definitely help.

So will rookie catcher Jorge Alfaro, one of the league’s top freshman prospects.

The key for the Phils, however, will be squeezing more life out of a starting rotation that quickly fades after Arrieta and holdover Aaron Nola take their turns. At least there’s a bona fide closer, albeit a potentially busy one, in Hector Neris.

Arrieta, also courted by Washington, could have had much more money had he signed sooner. But agent Scott Boras, known for both greed and audacity, insisted the pitcher wait indefinitely, even well into the 2018 campaign. Arrieta finally decided he couldn’t bypass $75 million.

He’ll make $30 million in the first year of his new deal, $25 million in the second, and $20 million in the third but he can opt out of the contract after 2019.

Managing the forlorn Phils can be a challenge, as Pete Mackanin learned last year

Philadelphia can void that opt-out if the club exercises a two-year extension that starts at $20 million per season. On the other hand, the pact can reach as $30 million per season if Arrieta reaches incentive clauses based upon starts and finishes in the voting for the National League’s Cy Young Award. At maximum, it could morph into a five-year, $135 million deal.

Kapler said at the beginning of spring training that he thought the Phils had the opportunity to “shock people.” They might not shock anybody anymore, especially since Arrieta has always pitched well in the Philadelphia bandbox (perhaps because of the puny Philly attack).

Arrieta, 32, won the Cy Young Award with the 2015 Cubs when he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA. He has since remained one of the game’s best starters, going 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA in ’16 and 14-10 with a 3.53 mark last year. He has made at least 30 starts in each of the past three seasons.

The salary in each year of the two-year extension will be increased from $20 million if Arrieta reaches a certain number of starts in each of the first two seasons. If he starts 25 games, he’ll get $1 million toward his salary in both 2021 and ’22. If Arrieta starts 27, he’ll get $1.5 million toward each year’s salary, 29 starts will get him $2 million and 31 starts will get him $2.5 million.

If Arrieta finishes in the top five of the NL Cy Young Award voting in each of the first two seasons, the salaries of the two-year extension can increase to $30 million.

Jake Arrieta hopes his Cy Young days are not behind him

The average annual value of Arrieta’s deal ($25 million) was the highest signed by any player since the end of last season. Santana’s average annual value ($20 million) was the fifth- highest.

Because Arrieta rejected the Cubs’ qualifying offer last year, the Phillies will forfeit their third-highest draft pick plus $500,000 in international signing bonus money. They previously surrendered their second-highest pick, plus $500,000 in international signing dollars, when they signed Santana.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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