Klentak Should Turn to Arrieta to Fill Pitching Needs

The Phillies have already played 13 games this spring, but don’t think for a second that the team is done tinkering with its roster. Philadelphia GM Matt Klentak has talked about beefing up the team’s pitching staff and has reportedly been eyeing a trio of free-agents: Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb. The fact that all three pitchers are still available is downright shocking given the proximity of Opening Day and the strength of their respective resumes. Arrieta is a Cy Young winner with a pair of no-hitters under his belt; Lynn was an All-Star in 2012 and has posted a WAR of at least 3.1 in his last three seasons; and Cobb had a respectable 3.66 ERA and 12 wins last year for the maddeningly mediocre Rays. In any other year, all three players would have signed lucrative contracts months ago, but this isn’t any other year. MLB owners have been uncharacteristically stingy this winter and appear more reluctant than ever to shell out big bucks for anything less than elite talent. That’s good news for the Phillies, who have the financial flexibility to absorb another big contract (or two). Let’s break down the options. Arrieta obviously has the most cachet thanks to his stellar stint in Chicago. The 32-year-old won the NL Cy Young award in 2015 when he went 22-6, and he helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series in 108 years that postseason. He struggled with nagging injuries and a dip in his velocity in 2017, but still finished with 14 wins and would be an ideal mentor to Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez. Philadelphia’s young staff could also learn a thing or two from Lance Lynn, who led the league in starts just a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. His 11 wins in 2017 were a five-year low, but there’s reason to believe that he’ll take another step forward this season now that he’s overcome the physical and mental hurdles associated with his injury. That was certainly the case for Cobb, who went 12-10 for the Rays last season in his first full year back after undergoing Tommy John surgery of his own. The six-foot-three right-hander is a bankable middle-of-the-rotation starter with a plus curveball and a nasty split-changeup.

Either an acquisition of Lynn or Arrieta would improve Philadelphia’s chances considerably in 2018. The current odds for 2018 win totals for the Phillies is just under 75 games. Up already from last year, so imagine what one of these pitchers could do to the odds. Bear in mind the window to bet on the win totals is pretty short, you can use this to see which sportsbooks to trust if you’re thinking of picking up either the Over or the Under before the start of the season.

The Phillies could reasonably sign two of the three aforementioned pitchers, but they’ll have to act fast. Arrieta has had plenty of suitors lately and all three will have to get into game shape soon to have any hope of being able to contribute by April.

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