The 2017 offseason is an important one for the Phillies. More than any other winter, the moves Matt Klentak and his front office decide to make over the next few months will inform when the Phillies will try and contend again.
A young core of offensive pieces is in place, from J.P. Crawford and Rhys Hoskins in the infield to Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams in the outfield to Jorge Alfaro behind the plate, the ceiling is pretty high. And Philadelphia wants to keep it that way.
The best move they can make is to give Aaron Nola — seemingly the team's only true top-3 rotation arm at the moment — some support in the pitching staff.
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That's where Jake Arrieta comes in.
The onetime Cy Young award winner and World Series champ is an unrestricted free agent, and along with former Dodger Yu Darvish, is one of the top arms available. With Klentak at the GM meetings this week, discussions on trading for Giancarlo Stanton will take most of the headline ink. But free agent signings will follow soon in the Winter Meetings.
According to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, one of baseball's most connected insiders, Philadelphia is among the teams vying for Arrieta's services:
"His four-plus seasons with the Cubs produced a 68-31 record and 2.73 ERA," Cafardo said. "He struggled in the first half of this past season, but in 12 second-half starts he went 6-3 with a 2.28 ERA. Arrieta should get plenty of attention in free agency, with the Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Phillies all likely to compete for a pitcher who will likely get close to $25 million a year. Whether it's for four or five years is the question."
The Phillies have a lot of question marks to turn into more sturdy punctuation, especiallt when it comes to their pitching staff, but for a team and city used to opening up its payroll the time might finally be here to invest in a 31-year-old veteran who has shown he has ace stuff.