We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag.  This time it's a Jake Arrieta edition.  As we do every week we take your questions, then answer them on the air on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.

As of now since the Arrieta signing: Does the rotation opening day look like this.... Nola, Arrieta, Eickhoff, Velasquez, Eflin?

Signing Arrieta to his three-year, $75 million deal means that the competition for the Phillies rotation just got a whole lot tougher.  The names battling for a spot in the rotation include Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Tom Eshelman, Mark Leiter, and Drew Hutchison.  Who will win that fifth spot?

I'm going to scratch four names off of that list right now.  Eshelman, though very impressive this Spring, will head to Triple-A Lehigh Valley for some more seasoning.  Hutchison is on a minor league deal and not on the 40-man roster, so he will also likely head to Triple-A for depth.  Thompson I think is going to be optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Leiter I believe makes the Phillies.  However, I think Leiter is headed for the bullpen.  Leiter finally gave up his first runs a couple days ago and has been striking out many opposing hitters; he has 13 strikeouts in nine and one-thirds innings.  Being a versatile arm, I think Leiter is headed for the bullpen.

Of Eflin, Pivetta and Lively, it is still somewhat up in the air.  Eflin pitched five scoreless innings on Monday night in Kissimmee, allowing just one hit and striking out two.   Pivetta has struggled a little bit if you look at his numbers, going 0-3 with a 6.43 earned run average.  Lively has been decent, too, pitching to a 3.00 earned run average in nine innings.

Right now my gut is saying Lively, but the story is not complete.  Who knows, maybe the Phillies even add another starter.  I would not be totally be surprised if from this list the Phillies make a trade with another team who could afford to be patient in the major leagues with one of these starters.

How does the Arietta signing impact their dollars for next off season free agents like Harper?

In a word: not at all.

The Phillies payroll for 2018 is going to be about $80 million if nothing else changes.  With the luxury tax set at $197 million in 2018 and $206 million in 2019, the Phillies are nowhere close to running out of room.

So if the Phillies added, say, Manny Machado for $30 million a season, they would still have another $90 million they could spend before the luxury tax is a concern.  That means they could add a closer, a second bat, more bullpen arms... the possibilities are almost limitless.

Plus, consider the $5 million made by Cesar Hernandez could be replaced by a rookie contract.  Even if Hernandez's arbitration number keeps increasing, his contract is of little concern.

If fans are worried about Arrieta's presence affecting how they do filling out the roster, there is little reason for concern.

Now that Arrieta is on board, why don't the Phillies make one more move and go for it?  Alex Cobb is still available.

There was a report from J.P. Morosi of MLB.com a while back that the Phillies could possibly consider signing not one, but two starters.  The only two names left that might make sense for the Phillies are either Jeremy Hellickson or Alex Cobb.

Both pitchers are veterans who may have to settle for one-year contracts.  As we saw Lance Lynn getting a one-year deal from the Minnesota Twins, worth $12 million,Cobb could come at an inexpensive cost.  However, since he declined the $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Tampa Bay Rays, he will cost a team who signs him a draft pick.

The Phillies are already down their second round and third round draft picks for signing Arrieta and Carlos Santana.  They may not wish to lose another draft pick.

Hellickson will not have a draft pick attached to him.  Hellickson was given a qualifying offer by the Phillies last season, which means according to new rules, he cannot be given a qualifying offer again.  That means if the Phillies sign him, no draft pick compensation will be necessary.

One more name to keep in mind is closer Greg Holland.  After a tremendous rebirth in Colorado last season, Holland was looking for a big pay day.  However, Holland remains unsigned.    Holland also turned down the $17.4 million qualifying offer.

As of now Hector Neris stands to be the Phillies closer.  However, Holland would be an improvement.  MLB.com listed the Phillies as a possible destination.

Perhaps with Arrieta in the fold and a low payroll the Phillies might decide to go for it.

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