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Phillies’ Jake Arrieta exercises $20 million option for 2020

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PHILADELPHIA — Jake Arrieta is staying with the Philadelphia Phillies, exercising a $20 million player option for 2020 on Saturday.

A 33-year-old right-hander, Arrieta was 8-8 with a 4.64 ERA in 24 starts this year. He did not pitch after Aug. 11 because of surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.

Arrieta was the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner with the Chicago Cubs. He made the All-Star team the following season and helped the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908. He left as a free agent after the 2017 season and signed a deal with the Phillies that will wind up paying $75 million over three seasons.

Arrieta was 10-11 with a 3.96 ERA in 31 starts for Philadelphia in 2018.

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The case for the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts — Examining Boston’s two paths forward

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This year’s tepid MLB stove season is dominated by talk of whether contending teams in Boston and Cleveland, both of which won their divisions in 2018 but missed the playoffs in 2019, might trade their best players — Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor, respectively — now, before they reach free agency (next November for Betts and the following offseason for Lindor). Cleveland’s financial picture is its own set of problems, but Boston should have no issue whatsoever paying Betts — who seems to want to go to free agency — $30-plus million a year to spend the rest of his prime years with the Red Sox. There is, however, an argument for trading Betts now to address the organizational deficiency in starting pitching, even though it would mean trading their best and perhaps most popular player.

The Red Sox are not in a great competitive position right now; their rotation for 2020 depends on two veterans, Chris Sale and David Price, whose health and durability are both gigantic questions. Neither threw 150 innings last season; both had the worst ERAs of their careers and both ended the year on the injured list. Their healthy returning starters are Eduardo Rodriguez and … Nathan Eovaldi, if you are an optimist. The Red Sox had a 4.70 ERA last year, putting them at the league median, and would project to worse than that in 2020 unless they bring in a lot of outside help.

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Reliever Chris Martin back with Braves on 2-year, $14 million deal

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ATLANTA — Pitcher Chris Martin and the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a $14 million, two-year contract, a deal that brings the right-hander back after he closed 2019 with the club.

Martin, 33, was acquired by Atlanta from the Texas Rangers for left-hander Kolby Allard at the July 31 trade deadline.

Martin was 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in 20 games with the Braves. He had 22 strikeouts and one walk in 17⅔ innings.

Martin will earn $7 million in each year of the deal and agreed to a provision to donate $70,000 annually to charity. His signing comes on the same day the Braves introduced left-hander Will Smith, who agreed to a $40 million, three-year contract.

The 6-foot-8 Martin has a 4.51 ERA in his big league career in 144 games, all in relief, with Colorado, the New York Yankees, Texas and Atlanta.

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MLB teams can trust these free agents over 30

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Looking at this year’s list of free agents, there are plenty of drool-worthy options at the top of the rankings. Gerrit Cole is one of the most valuable pitchers to become available in free agency. Anthony Rendon was a serious MVP candidate in 2019 and Stephen Strasburg isn’t that far behind Cole. Zack Wheeler and Hyun-Jin Ryu would fit near the top of most major league rotations.

However, not everyone is getting a star. Some teams are running up against salary issues — many of those limits being self-imposed, of course — and even if the willingness is there, there are a lot more teams than there are available stars. So there is going to be a lot of shopping at the bargain end of free agency. These players won’t carry a team to the postseason single-handedly, but they will likely contribute at a reasonable salary.

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