Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta is expected to sign with a team “in the next couple of days.” It sounds like several clubs are still in the mix, though the Phillies remain the frontrunner for Arrieta’s services. It’s not yet clear if the club has come around to the idea of a four- or five-year contract or if Arrieta has lowered his asking price in hopes of securing a deal before Opening Day.
Neither Arrieta nor fellow free agent right-hander Alex Cobb have found landing spots so far this spring. With the plethora of free agents signing short-term contracts for well under perceived market value, it seems fairly likely that both pitchers will be forced to adjust their initial expectations, either by signing long-term deals for less money or taking shorter deals with a higher average annual value. It doesn’t help, of course, that Opening Day looms just 18 days away, putting extra pressure on both players and teams to reach less-than-ideal arrangements sooner rather than later.
The Padres, Nationals and Phillies have all been connected to Arrieta over the last month or so, but no concrete offers seem to have materialized lately. Last week, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports observed that the Padres were having “internal discussions” about the 32-year-old right-hander, though he added that signing Arrieta might be a long shot as the club is reportedly looking for a bargain deal and already has a bevy of young pitchers to look at in camp. The Nationals aren’t thought to be seriously considering Arrieta either, especially after discussions with agent Scott Boras went south several months ago. That leaves the Phillies (and any other dark-horse candidates), who have both the cash and the roster space to make a deal work — assuming the two can find some middle ground, that is.