With the signing of pitcher Jake Arrieta, the Phillies have a potential dominant one-two punch in Arrieta and Aaron Nola who will take the mound this year on a weekly basis.
After months of a rumored deal, the Phillies finally got Arrieta locked up on Monday to a multi-year deal which will give the team much needed help in the starting rotation.
On Tuesday, at Arrieta’s introductory press conference, Phillies owner John Middleton hinted that the front office has a lot of work left to do next summer to bring the team back to the powerhouse they once were.
“[The free agent class next summer is] a conversation for another day,” Middleton said. “But, trust me, they are circled.”
Next year’s crop of free agents holds some offensive juggernauts.
At the top of the list are the Nationals’ Bryce Harper and the Orioles’ Manny Machado.
Both the age of just 26, they have a lot of good baseball left to play and they’re both off to Hall of Fame starts to their young careers.
In six seasons, Harper has hit 150 home runs, knocked in 421 RBI and has had some incredible plays in the outfield. He won the NL MVP award in 2015, notching 42 home runs and 99 RBI, while batting .330.
Machado is right behind Harper in terms of production. In six seasons, he’s cracked 138 home runs and 406 RBI and brought home two gold glove awards for defense at third base.
ESPN’s Buster Olney added some fuel to the fire on Tuesday on the “Sign Of The Times” podcast.
“I bumped into Jake Arrieta’s agent Scott Boras who is of course the agent for Bryce Harper,” Olney said. “I didn’t ask Scott this, but I guarantee you what he would say is, ‘Buster, teams pay for talent.’ And Bryce Harper is a transcendent talent. I still think he has a chance to push the deal to $400 million. I would bet the family farm that Harper ends up with the Phillies.”
Harper would certainly be the prize of the free agent class, but Machado would be a nice consolidation prize. Outfielder Nick Williams and third baseman Maikel Franco are certainly expendable if the Phillies were to net one of the prized players.
Going by Arrieta’s signing, Middleton and the front office will do whatever it takes to win the chase.