Anthony Rizzo has lived up to the hype for the Cubs

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Anthony Rizzo hit .342 with a 1.101 OPS in 74 games at Triple-A this season after hitting .331 with a 1.056 OPS in 93 games at Triple-A last year, yet the Cubs took their sweet time calling him up.

Rizzo finally arrived on June 26 and has hit .300 with 14 homers, 11 doubles, and an .843 OPS in 72 games, wiping away any worries stemming from his terrible 49-game debut with the Padres last season and making it clear that he’ll be in the middle of the Cubs’ lineup for a long time.

He had the best game of his young career yesterday, going 3-for-5 with two homers and six RBIs against the Pirates, and the 23-year-old followed up an August slump by hitting .359 with five homers in his last 16 games.

San Diego soured on Rizzo last season, trading him to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner and acquiring Yonder Alonso from the Reds to replace him as their long-term first baseman. Cashner remains a very promising young arm, but Alonso is two-and-a-half years older than Rizzo and has hit .273 with eight homers and a modest .742 OPS in 140 games for the Padres, albeit while calling pitcher-friendly Petco Park home.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.