Arrieta ready to ‘move the needle’ for Phillies

Tuesday marked a potentially big day on the Phillies’ path back to contention, as the club introduced its newest acquisition, Jake Arrieta, in a news conference at the team’s Spring Training facility in Clearwater, Fla.

“Jake’s one of the best pitchers in baseball,” said Phillies general manager Matt Klentak. “This is a big moment for our franchise. We’re thrilled.”

Tuesday marked a potentially big day on the Phillies’ path back to contention, as the club introduced its newest acquisition, Jake Arrieta, in a news conference at the team’s Spring Training facility in Clearwater, Fla.

“Jake’s one of the best pitchers in baseball,” said Phillies general manager Matt Klentak. “This is a big moment for our franchise. We’re thrilled.”

Arrieta inked a deal Monday that is worth $75 million over the next three seasons, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. The right-hander was instrumental in helping the Cubs ascend from yearly also-rans to 2016 World Series champions, and he now hopes to do the same with a young Philadelphia team seeking its first postseason appearance since ’11.

Tweet from @Phillies: So official. #BeBold pic.twitter.com/VJqxLkOirn

“I want to thank the Middleton family and the Phillies’ front office for believing in me and believing that I can come in and move the needle,” Arrieta said. “That’s exactly what I look forward to doing with this organization.”

Arrieta represents one of the highest profile signings from this offseason’s free-agent market, as well as one of the last big names to come off the board. He and Scott Boras were initially seeking a deal north of $100 million, according to multiple reports, but the pitcher still wound up with the highest average annual value of any free agent to sign this offseason. Arrieta will earn $30 million in 2018, per Morosi, followed by $25 million in ’19 and $20 million in ’20.

10 things to know about Arrieta

With the ink finally dry, Arrieta is looking forward to pitching again and bringing the Phillies back to prominence.

“I knew this was an org that was hungry to win,” Arrieta said. “There’s no reason this organization can’t get back to the winning ways they had a few years ago. The fans are hungry. You saw the Eagles win the Super Bowl, and that makes the other teams in this area hungry to get to that level.”

Video: Phillies react to the team signing Arrieta

The Phillies may not have been the perceived front-runner for Arrieta at the start of Hot Stove season. Klentak said conversations with Arrieta and Boras began in November, but they were fairly sporadic until negotiations intensified over the last couple weeks. In the end, the Phillies wound up with a pitcher revered for his mental toughness and his ability to rise in big moments. Arrieta is a leader Philadelphia was seeking as the club hopes to find itself in more meaningful games.

“[Phillies president of baseball operations] Andy MacPhail has told us for years that as much as you may be choosing a player, that player is also choosing you,” said Klentak. “It’s not lost on me that Jake Arrieta would want and choose to come to the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Arrieta, like several of the young pitchers on the Phillies’ staff, didn’t find success right away. He was a middling pitcher over his first three years in Baltimore before finding his form and becoming one of the most dominant starters in baseball. First-year manager Gabe Kapler hopes Arrieta can help his new rotation-mates make the same kind of turnarounds.

“Just listening to Jake talk through how to create confidence [on the mound] is the perfect message for not just our pitchers, but all our guys here today,” said Kapler. “This is going to be a pretty perfect marriage, between what our players need from Jake, and what Jake can bring to our clubhouse.”

Philadelphia has been a team in transition for a handful of years, but Tuesday’s news conference made it clear: Expectations have now ramped up in the City of Brotherly Love.

“I intend to come here and win right away,” said Arrieta. “Even though we’re technically in a rebuild, I think all the other players would agree with me — we’re here to win, rebuild or not. One thing I can promise to Phillies Nation is that we’re always going to fight.”

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

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