CLEARWATER, Fla. – Jake Arrieta knows something about rebuilding efforts. He joined the Chicago Cubs during a 96-loss season in 2013. Two years later, he won the National League Cy Young Award and helped the Cubs win 97 games. A year later, the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years.
Arrieta had 75 million reasons to come to Philadelphia.
Make it 75 million plus one.
“I knew this was an organization that was hungry to win and would do the necessary things to take that step,” he said. “I feel like we’re not far away. I think rebuild is a loose term. A rebuild doesn’t mean you can’t win now.
“I intend to come in here and win right away. Even though we are technically in a rebuild, I think all the players would agree with me that we intend to win, rebuild or not.”
The Phillies made a late push over the weekend to sign Arrieta. He is guaranteed $75 million over three years and there is a team option to extend the deal to five years. The Padres, Brewers and Nationals were all in the running for him, according to sources.
Arrieta was introduced in a news conference at the Phillies’ spring training site Tuesday morning. A number of players attended the news conference – in uniform. An hour later, Arrieta joined them on the field in uniform.
During the news conference, Arrieta spoke to his new teammates – and the fans.
“A message I want to send to not only the players but to Philadelphia in general and the entire Phillies nation is that what we’re going to do here is we’re going to promise a fight,” the pitcher said. “There is no guarantee you’re going to feel good or you’re going to have your best stuff or you’re going to get a great night sleep the night before. 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.
“I couldn’t be happier to be a Phillie. I look forward to getting on the field with my teammates and winning some games.”
Though his free agency lingered into March, Arrieta is well conditioned. He had gotten up to 65 pitches in bullpen workouts back home in Texas. He believes he can be ready to pitch during the first week of the regular season. The Phillies have not yet come up with a plan. Regardless, Arrieta projects to reach the 30 starts that he has averaged the last four years.
“My body is in tremendous shape,” the 32-year-old right-hander said. “Obviously, I haven’t been in a game yet but I’m a quick learner and I like my chances at getting ready.”