Phillies Reap the Reward of Tanking Culture They Helped Build by Landing Jake Arrieta

The common wisdom in baseball over the last five years has been simple: If you’re not a contender, you’re a rebuilder. As teams wizened to the fact that there was nothing more deleterious, long-term, than being an 81-win team that didn’t make the playoffs, the league settled into two camps: the franchises that, thanks to money or a blessed farm system or both, were World Series hopefuls; and those that, lacking stars or the stomach to spend on them, tore everything down to begin anew.

That the Astros and Cubs burned everything down only to see title-winning super-squads arise from the ashes has only emboldened everyone else with regards to tanking—in most cases shamelessly. Several teams this offseason openly stopped trying with regards to fielding competitive rosters; nearly a third of the league is clustered in the basement fighting for draft picks while bottoming out payroll-wise.

For the last few seasons, you could count the Phillies in that group, as the Ruben Amaro teams that won a World Series in 2008 amid five straight division titles went to rot in their final years. The front office under Matt Klentak, who replaced Amaro after the 2015 season, had eschewed free agency and traded away any veteran with value, with the goal of amassing prospects and securing high draft picks (including the No. 1

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