WEST PALM BEACH, FLA — First-year Nationals manager Dave Martinez is very familiar with right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta, a free agent who signed a three-year deal earlier this week with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Arrieta made his Major League debut with the Baltimore Orioles in 2010 and then was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2013. It turned to be a horrible trade for the Orioles, as Arrieta won 22 games and the Cy Young Award in 2015 with a 1.77 ERA. He then went 14-10 last season with Chicago even though his ERA rose to 3.53.
Martinez was a bench coach under Joe Maddon the past few years with the Cubs, who won the World Series in 2016. The Phillies, meanwhile, were 31 games back of the first-place Nationals last year in the National League East.
“I am happy for Jake. He is a competitor. I know it was eating him up” to be at home, Martinez said Tuesday.
Some reports linked the Nationals to possible signing Arrieta, since Washington is looking for a fifth starter and the pitcher is represented by agent Scott Boras. The Nationals have several Boras clients such as Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, who will be a free agent after this season.
“It is unfortunate (Arrieta) is in our division. (But) I am happy with the guys I’ve got,” Martinez said.
Catcher Miguel Montero, a non-roster invitee to spring training with the Nationals, also knows about Arrieta. Montero was the Cubs catcher when the Nationals stole a team-record seven bases in one game at Nationals Park against the duo last June.
Montero blamed Arrieta for the steals after the game and the next day the Cubs began the process of parting ways with the catcher. The press conference introducing Arrieta to the Phillies played on a television in the Nationals clubhouse Tuesday as Montero walked past the screen.
Martinez was also asked on Tuesday about getting to see Harper every day now that he is the Washington skipper. “He is a competitor. I think he is unbelievable,” Martinez said of his work ethic.
Martinez is the third manager for Washington since the start of the 2014 season. Matt Williams was the manager in 2014-15 and Dusty Baker was in charge in 2016-17. Harper broke into the majors in 2012.