Washington Nationals right passing on Jake Arrieta

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: Jake Arrieta /
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Although a bitter pill for some, the Washington Nationals did the right thing not signing Jake Arrieta. The Nats are strong and his price too high.

The Washington Nationals interest in Jake Arrieta was never strong. When the Philadelphia Phillies grabbed the top free agent off the market Sunday, we understood why.

Arrieta did not get his Yu Darvish-type deal. Instead, he signed a contract similar to what made sense for the Nats except one thing. Price.

Over the next two years, Arrieta is due $55 million. Then, before the 2020 season, his opt-out kicks in. He gets either $20 million from the Phillies or hits the open market again. Tough choice.

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At nearly $30 million a year, Washington was not biting. Even with their close relationship with Arrieta’s agent Scott Boras, the price busted the budget and took away any flexibility to grab another catcher. When you consider the Nats are over the competitive balance tax a second straight year, the money becomes an albatross.

Because the tax is based on the annual average value of a contract, Arrieta’s Washington cost for 2018 topped $34.5 million. Take his $27.5 million base and add another $7 million on top. That is what you get for paying a 30 percent tax.

So, as the team works on in West Palm Beach daily, it is time for you to enter Dave Martinez’s “Circle of Trust.” This daily activity of team building, including music on the field and live camels one day, draws rave reviews from the players.

Yes, the Phillies are better this Monday than they were lost. However, they are now on paper chasing a second wild card. FanGraphs projected standings remain the same for Washington, a 90-win team favored to top the New York Mets by nine games. Philadelphia now projects as a strong 76-win squad.

You can argue whether Alex Cobb is worth chasing, but the mindset for fans and team must change from focusing on what is wrong to how good the Nats are. Poised to have the best offense in history, Washington boasts two Cy Young candidates and a solid mid-rotation.

A.J. Cole as the fifth starter works in April and May. If he does not, they have the time to find the right player for the job.

Lost in the chase for Arrieta is Washington starts the year with an estimated payroll of $190.2 million. They have a former MVP in right field and one of the best prospects in the game knocking on the door. Things are fine.

Next: How the Nats stack up

The time is here for everybody to trust the process.