Every major league multi-year baseball contract is bet on the future. Teams try to gauge past results, age and realistic projections to see if they can get a decent return on their investment. Sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t.
To the billionaire owner it is just “chump change” that they can tax deduct. To the average fan who is paying inflated prices to attend a game with the family, it is far more serious. The fan wants a winning team to support. The new contract represents hope. To this fan, the contract money is an unimaginable amount. It triggers unreasonable expectations. This “new contract” will bring success and praise or disappointment and anger. There is rarely a middle ground.
Jake Arrieta had two sensational seasons for the Cubs. His third year was good but the numbers were dropping from prior years. Despite that and the age of 32, the Philadelphia Phillies stepped up and signed him to a three year $75 million contract. The Phillies fans dreamt of a new and improved team.
In June of his first season under contract, Arrieta tore cartilage in his left knee. He did not inform the team and went 1-5 with a 6.35 ERA in his last nine starts. His final record was 10-11 with a 3.96 ERA. Disregarding his injury he pitched competitively through the year. However, he did not approach his two great years with the Cubs. The rather pedestrian results were a disappointment to the fans.
During the offseason he had surgery to clean up the meniscus in his knee. However on August 17 of the second season , it was announced that he would have season ending surgery to clean up bone spurs in his right elbow. The year concluded with an 8-8 record and an ERA of 4.64. Two years were spent and all the Phillies received was an average pitcher with average results.
2020 was a shortened Covid 19 season. He started 9 games, finished 4-4 with a 5.08 ERA. This ended his three year contract and he became a free agent again. During his three year $75 million contract (shortened by a 60 game season in 2020), Arrieta was 22- 23 with ERAs of 3.96 and higher. This was a huge financial commitment with very little return for the Phillies. The team finished 3rd twice and 4th once. Their 3 year record was 6 games under .500. Fans can only wonder what the $75 million could have done with other players on the roster rather than an average injured player.
$75,000,000 is a huge windfall of income for the player. The fans in Philadelphia envisioned a great pitcher leading to playoffs and maybe even a World Series. They got a below average team and a pitcher who was never healthy enough to contribute. Despite the results, Jake Arrieta received $75,000,000. The fans got overpriced tickets and hot dogs. A bad investment for the owner was much more serious to the fanbase.