After an offseason of uncertainty, pitcher Jake Arrieta has a new home and a new outlook.
"There's not many like me. That's just how it is, man," Arrieta told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I view myself as very different than most. I'm not saying I have the best stuff or I'm the best pitcher or I have the best command. But just what I do is pretty unique to me. The whole thing.
"I don't care what the situation is -- I bet on myself to get the job done."
The 2015 Cy Young Award winner turned down an offer to return to the Chicago Cubs and then waited out a stagnant free-agent market until March to sign a three-year, $75 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The contract -- which could be extended to a five-year, $135 million deal with options and incentives -- has worked out for both sides.
"I intend to be here for five years, or longer," said Arrieta, who is 3-1 with a 3.49 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 28⅓ innings over his first five starts for the Phillies. "I'm not playing around. I'm here to take full responsibility for what my role is, both to lead by example and to help these guys get the most out of their ability."
Arrieta, who won a championship while going 68-31 during his five seasons in Chicago, told the Sun-Times that, after no conversations during the offseason, he received a one-time offer of six years, $120 million from Cubs president Theo Epstein.
"He called literally the night before [Yu] Darvish signed and said, 'Here's the offer, take it or leave it," the 32-year-old right-hander said. "If you don't want it, we're going to try to sign Darvish as soon as possible.'
"He made an offer, but in my heart, I believe that he knew I would say no or that I would want to negotiate."
And then, as a free agent, the 2015 Cy Young Award winner waited. And waited. Calls came, but offers didn't.
"There were times in February where I'm like, 'Why me?'" Arrieta told the Sun-Times. "'Why this year? It had to happen this year?' But there were guys that were much worse off than I, that got screwed pretty badly.
"One thing during free agency that I heard was that I didn't project as well over the course of the contract. ... I don't even know what that means. Because my [velocity] was down? I was 92.5 [mph] last year, average. I'm throwing 93-95 now. And I can pitch."