Another free agent domino fell Sunday, to another team hoping to make some unexpected waves in 2018.
Jake Arrieta, the top remaining starting pitcher on the market, reportedly agreed to a three-year, $75 million deal with the Phillies on Sunday, pending a physical. According to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, Arrieta will make $30 million in 2018, $25 million in the second year and $20 million in the third.
The reported deal includes some interesting details. Arrieta has the choice to opt out of the contract after the 2019 season, per reports, but the Phillies have the ability to void that option if they exercise a two-year extension that starts at $20 million per season, according to Morosi. Incentives can run those extension years up to $30 million per year.
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In all, the deal could max out at $135 million over five years.
The move doesn't make the Phils some sort of favorites in the NL East -- the Nationals still exist, after all -- but it suddenly makes them contenders for a playoff spot in the National League, especially with a few teams, including the division mates in Miami, not trying to win in 2018. Aaron Nola likely remains the Opening Day starter, even in the wake of the Arrieta news, but the 32-year-old slots in just behind as the clear-cut No. 2 in the team's rotation.
For Arrieta, the move is a step backward, despite a new home park that, according to FanGraphs, plays relatively the same as the one he just left. The Phillies aren't a defensive mess but lack the high-level defenders such as Jason Heyward and Addison Russell like the Cubs boast, and don't have an offense that can cover mistakes as easily.
Even so, there were worse possible unions, for both sides. The No. 27 starter being drafted according to NFBC ADP data, Arrieta didn't seem to be paying too much of a price for his uncertain situation, and should remain in that general range with Sunday's news.
DeShields Gets Top Spot, Lofty Goals
But perhaps it should be what Banister believes DeShields will do with that opportunity that is making headlines. In discussing the decision Sunday, Banister said he thinks DeShields should aim to steal 50 bases atop the Rangers lineup.
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“I think that’s a legitimate goal just based on his previous on-base performances and his speed,” Banister said. “We feel that he’s that type of player.”
It's not as inconceivable as it might sound, since DeShields once stole 101 bases between Class A and High-A as a member of the Astros system. And he's twice stolen 25 or more bases in the majors, despite never playing more than 121 games in a single season.
Despite the small track record and the belief this spring that he could be in for such a role -- the confirmation was nice, but many thought DeShields was the odds-on favorite for both jobs -- the 25-year-old not been drafted like a potential 50-base stealer to date, with a 196.8 ADP presently. That number will shrink with the news, but he may still be at a discount as drafters are slow on the uptake. Cash in.
DeSclafani Sidelined With Oblique
While DeShields' stock is trending up, that of another trendy sleeper pick this spring, Anthony DeSclafani, is going the other direction.
DeSclafani, who boasted a 3.28 ERA in 20 starts in 2016 before missing all of 2017 due to injury, recently suffered a strained left oblique, sidelining him indefinitely.
“It wasn’t something that anybody knew about until after his last start,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He had it checked out (Saturday) through the MRI. Results showed a strain. Beyond that, I don’t know much more as far as time away from baseball.”
Enquirer reporter John Fay said Price was "visibly down" when discussing DeSclafani's injury, never a good sign for a player's immediate outlook.
The caveat with oblique injuries is always that there's no set recovery time due to their, uh, oblique nature. Another rule of thumb is, they usually last longer than originally hoped.
DeSclafani still owns the stuff to be an effective fantasy starter when on the mound. It seems, though, that return got pushed back again Sunday.
Quick Hits: Jacob deGrom (back) allowed two earned runs over 2 2/3 innings Sunday in his Grapefruit League debut against the Astros. The most important thing here is that deGrom had no issues with his back. He struck out all three batters he faced in the top of the first inning before running into some trouble in the top of the second. The 29-year-old right-hander will try to get stretched out enough over the next three weeks to make his regular-season debut in the Mets' second or third series ... Robinson Cano will undergo a precautionary MRI on his injured left hamstring. Cano was pulled from Sunday's Cactus League game with what has been termed left hamstring tightness, but the Mariners want to be sure there's nothing more serious going on. For what it's worth, Cano doesn't think the injury is serious and that he will only be out a couple of days ... Adam Eaton (knee) said Sunday that he has played in minor league games this spring and is right on schedule with his recovery. Eaton has yet to make his Grapefruit League debut as he eases back into things follow last May's ACL and meniscus surgery, but it's good to hear that he's been getting into action in minor league games. Barring any setbacks, it appears that he is on track to be ready for Opening Day ... Matt Carpenter said his ailing back felt "perfect" during an intrasquad game Sunday. Carpenter drew a walk, grounded out and fouled out in three plate appearances and also passed a test with his back when he stumbled while rounding second base but felt fine. He is slated to make his Grapefruit League debut as a designated hitter on Tuesday. Barring a setback, it's looking at this point like Carpenter -- who also has changed his throwing motion this spring in order to protect his shoulder -- should be OK for Opening Day ... Twins released RHP Anibal Sanchez. The move clears a spot on the 40-man roster for Lance Lynn. Sanchez signed a $2.5 million major league contract last month, but the deal wasn't guaranteed and with Lynn now aboard the Twins have moved on. He'll receive $417,000 in termination pay ... Carlos Carrasco dominated the Royals on Sunday in the Cactus League, striking out six in three shutout innings. Carrasco has now struck out 10 over his last six innings in the Cactus League while allowing just one run. That'll play ... Aaron Judge clubbed his first home run of the spring Sunday afternoon against the Marlins. It was a seventh-inning solo shot off hard-throwing Marlins prospect Sandy Alcantara. Judge has been eased into action in Yankees camp after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in November, but the young slugger should be 100 percent come Opening Day ... Logan Morrison (glute) will return to Grapefruit League action on Tuesday. Morrison tweaked his right glute last Wednesday and has sat out a few days as a precaution, but he will be fine ... Felix Hernandez (forearm) is hoping to throw two bullpen sessions this week. Hernandez threw an aggressive flat-ground session from 120 feet Saturday and said afterward of his bruised right forearm that "it's getting better every day." The Mariners haven't ruled out King Felix getting in two Cactus League starts before taking the ball on Opening Day, but the likelier scenario is that he'll pitch at the tail-end of the opening series versus the Indians on March 31 or April 1.