Jake Arrieta writes of 'dreams turned reality' in farewell letter to Cubs

BC-BBN--Phillies-Arrieta,2nd Ld-Writethru

I feel like we're not far away. "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, 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. He said he has a similar feeling about the Phillies. There were no-hitters, a Cy Young award, World Series victories - in all, his performance made him one of the greats in club history. Three consecutive NLCS appearances, two NL Central Titles, and a World Series Championship... the first in 108 years.

Arrieta will join Aaron Nola atop the Phillies' rotation on a team that finished last in the NL East. Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez are expected to be in the rotation and Nick Pivetta is the leading candidate for the fifth spot.

The question on many industry insiders' minds is: why? They have a roster composed heavily of players who have yet to even reach arbitration, leaving the Phillies enormous payroll flexibility. "It took a long time to develop". (And they still might, it's worth pointing out.) But in the unusual, depressed free agent market of the winter of 2017-18, the Phillies also saw the chance to find bargains - and perhaps put themselves in position to contend for a playoff spot a year early.

"He makes us a lot better", Eickhoff said. "We might just need a piece or two or three to push us over the top".

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"We're serious about winning and we're going to do what it takes to win", co-owner John Middleton said. "I think there's talent that needs experience, refinement, attitude, confidence, and certainly when you bring in players like Jake, you've put the cream in the coffee and it's ready to drink".

But the harsher truth is that the thriving marketplace Boras and Arrieta may have imagined emerging for the pitcher's services never materialized.

Arrieta has a relatively low 1,161 major-league innings on his arm at age 32, but a drop-off in performance and a decline in velocity last season generated some concerns about his staying power.

"I've been on the phone with him this whole entire offseason to see if it can work out", Hunter said Monday. The team has a slew of young pitchers who could fill in.


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