Arrieta On the Phillies: “We Intend to Win, Rebuild or Not”
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Most baseball press conference rooms are not full of players. But this one was different. At least 15 Phillies lined the back of the makeshift press conference room in Clearwater, Florida on Tuesday as the Phillies introduced their newest player, Jake Arrieta.
In attendance to introduce Arrieta were Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and super agent Scott Boras. Phillies managing partner John Middleton was also in attendance.
Klentak credited former Phillies third baseman and current scout Dave Hollins for helping drive this signing. Hollins reached out to Klentak in support of Arrieta. Klentak described the encounter:
"When we started talking about the starting pitching market and what we are going to do, Dave said, 'Don't underestimate the impact that signing a guy like Jake Arrieta will have on that clubhouse...what it means to have a superstar walk through the door. It takes the burden off of the young guys who may be feeling some extra pressure'".
Along with the urging of Hollins, it all seemed to come together nicley for the Phillies.
Klentak noted that Tommy Hunter was heavily involved in this recruiting process. The Phillies and "incredible family culture" in the Phillies organization was helpful and that to Phillies ownership "money was no object" in signing Arrieta. Also helpful was that Arrieta was very familiar with many of the Phillies front office.
A "tremendous reunion", was what Arrieta called his signing. Among those mentioned by name was Joe Jordan, now Phillies director of player personnel. Jordan drafted Arrieta with the Baltimore Orioles and Phillies president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak were part of that Orioles front office.
While it took until March 12 for Arrieta and the Phillies to sign on the dotted line, both sides said that the Phillies were engaged throughout the entire process. Boras noted that he and Klentak were talking as late as 12:30 a.m. during one day during the Winter Meetings and talks continued until the "last couple of weeks" when the two sides started to put together a deal.
But would signing with a team called "rebuilding" hamper someone like Arrieta from signing with the Phillies? Arrieta said that "rebuilding doesn't mean that you can't win now" and that "we intend to win, rebuild or not." Arrieta also said, "I knew this was an organization hungry to win".
Both Arrieta and Boras referred to the length of time it took for Arrieta to sign a deal and spoke about the need to
Despite the delay in signing, Arrieta said that he believes that he is ready to go. Arrieta said that he has been through bullpen sessions of 50-65 pitches "every two to three days", a workload that might be comparable to Spring Training. However, when he will pitch in live game action first remains to be seen.
"We'll probably sit down and game plan and decide", Arrieta said.
If Arrieta is unable to begin the season in the Phillies starting rotation, the club will have some time. Thanks to off days scheduled for Sunday, April 1 and Friday, April 6, the Phillies do not need a fifth starter until Wednesday April 11.
Even if Arrieta is not ready to start the season, it is clear things are different around this Phillies team.