Former Phillies right-handed pitchers Jake Arrieta and David Robertson are scheduled to throw in front of teams in hopes of landing a major-league deal in free agency. Jon Heyman of RADIO.COM reports that Arrieta will throw on Jan. 29. Robertson has planned a “showcase” in early-February, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
Feinsand also mentions that Robertson has re-hired agent Scott Leventhal to represent him. Robertson negotiated his two-year/$23 million deal with the Phillies on his own back in 2019.
Both Robertson and Arrieta have combined to net $100 million during their respective tenures in Philadelphia. Robertson was expected to slot into the back-end of the bullpen along with Héctor Neris and Seranthony Dominguez. An elbow injury sidelined him for the majority of the 2019 season. Tommy John surgery in August 2019 nullified his chances of becoming a significant contributor in Philadelphia over his two-year deal. He tried to come back in September 2020 but suffered a setback in his rehab process.
Arrieta was the Phillies’ biggest free-agent acquisition prior to the 2018 season. His $75 million price tag suggested that the Phillies still saw the then 32-year-old as a top-of-the-rotation starter. While Arrieta got off to a great start in 2018, he struggled down the stretch. After posting a 3.23 ERA in the first half, he gave up at least four runs in seven of his 13 outings in the second half. Bone spurs and a hamstring injury prematurely ended his 2019 and 2020 seasons respectively.
Both pitchers will be looking to prove to scouts in attendance that they are 100 percent healthy and that their stuff can still play. It’s unclear if the Phillies will be in attendance for either of the throwing sessions but it would be wise for the team to do their due diligence on both pitchers.
Dave Dombrowski said Monday that the team is “open-minded” to new bullpen acquisitions. They have a framework of a serviceable bullpen in place with Archie Bradley and Héctor Neris manning the back-end but they can afford to add depth. They’ve made a few minor-league signings with spring training invites in Neftali Feliz, Michael Ynoa and David Paulino but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Phillies signed additional arms to cheap guaranteed contracts. Robertson could be an intriguing bounce-back candidate for the Phillies at the right price.
And while Arrieta fell way short of expectations, his absence leaves a glaring hole in the back of the rotation. Spencer Howard, who hasn’t thrown more than 126 innings in a season during his professional career, slots into Arrieta’s spot and it’s unlikely he can provide more than the 154 1/3 innings Arrieta averaged through a 162-game season during his Phillies career. The Phillies need an innings eater and even in a buyer’s market, No. 4/5 starters don’t come cheap. J.A. Happ and José Quintana both reportedly signed one-year/$8 million deals.
The Phillies should jump into the bidding if Arrieta’s market is thin. If not, they’ll have plenty of options but for now, it would be unwise to completely reject the idea of either Arrieta or Robertson returning to Philadelphia.
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