If you were hoping that Jake Arrieta or another high-risk, high-reward free agent starter was going to be joining the team, you may want to prepare for a letdown. Team president Andy MacPhail held somewhat of a state of the team press conference Friday to discuss various subjects. One of the key points was that he doesn’t see the team splurging on a high-priced starter; or any other high-priced player for that matter.
“There are some guys out there that would help any team. It’s just a function of where you are, who you are, and where you think you are in that process and what you’re trying to do,” explained MacPhail. “The other mistake people make is that this isn’t the only chance you’ll have to improve your team. There are opportunities that are always evolving. We just need to stay on top of those and understand what they are.”
The Phillies currently have eight pitchers competing for rotation spots. Aaron Nola is a lock, with Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez near locks. That leaves Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta and Jake Thompson to battle for two spots. It was thought that ideally, those five would be battling for one spot and a veteran starter – acquired either through free agency or a trade – would hold down the other spot in the rotation. If you’re to believe MacPhail, that’s not going to happen.
Some hopes of seeing Arrieta in Phillies red sprang up when word that he spent the offseason training with outfielder Nick Williams. The two struck a friendship up and it was hoped that maybe that would lead to Arrieta entertaining an interest in pitching in Philadelphia. According to Williams, he didn’t push the idea, but did give Arrieta glowing reviews of the young players and the clubhouse atmosphere that the Phillies have.