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Klentak: Phils to stay disciplined in FA market

Philadelphia willing to pay more in exchange for shorter-term deals
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jake Arrieta is sitting out there, just waiting for somebody to sign him.

Could the Phillies be that team?

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jake Arrieta is sitting out there, just waiting for somebody to sign him.

Could the Phillies be that team?

Perhaps. The longer he remains on the open market, the conventional wisdom is that his asking price will drop. That would benefit the Phillies, who have plenty of money to spend. But while Philadelphia general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday morning at Spectrum Field that the Phillies are pursuing a veteran starting pitcher, he said they are going to acquire that pitcher on their terms.

So, no, the Phillies are not going to approach the six-year, $126 million contract the Cubs handed Yu Darvish.

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"We're pretty disciplined," Klentak said. "We've gone through this rebuild, we've acknowledged that it was going to be painful for a few years. It has been. We're not going to do anything to compromise the future of that. We're going to continue to do this right. We're competitive as anybody else is, but we're not going to radically change our valuation on a potential acquisition based on emotion. That's not something we're going to do."

Tweet from @Phillies: Today, Matt Klentak faced the media to discuss the state of the #Phillies and what he's seen so far at camp. pic.twitter.com/sCEdk4WY6Y

In the case of Arrieta, or even somebody like Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn, it is difficult to picture the Phillies going more than three or four years.

Why? Because while the Phillies are optimistic they are closer than ever to competing for a postseason berth, they also know they are not there yet. They are not going to hand a pitcher a $100 million contract, knowing the final years of that contract likely will be bad for them and knowing they can always find a top-notch starter when they need one.

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Remember: the Phillies got Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee (twice) and Roy Oswalt in the span of two years. Aces are always available.

If the Phillies sign a bona fide starter before Opening Day, it seems more likely they'll overpay for that pitcher on a short-term deal. Absent that, Philadelphia could just repeat what it's done the previous two offseasons and acquire pitchers on one-year deals.

"It is something we talk about frequently," Klentak said about spending more to sign players to short-term contracts.

The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million contract in December. Klentak said at the time that one of the key reasons they made the deal is that it lasted only three years.

Video: Outlook: Santana positioned for strong year in Philly

"That's what our owners have asked us to look forward to for the last several years," Klentak said. "We've been a little more aggressive with it this offseason. We'll continue to take that approach with starting pitching in the next few days, weeks, who knows, maybe into July and next offseason. But it takes a lot for everything to converge and to find the overlap with a player and an agent or a trade to cross the goal line and we'll see if that happens."

Tweet from @Phillies: Another successful day out on the mounds. pic.twitter.com/L7LBhcIjgi

The Phillies have been busy taking and making phone calls to agents and teams in the past couple weeks. They just signed Drew Hutchinson to a Minor League contract on Thursday.

"I wouldn't say I expect to [sign a starter]," Klentak said. "We're very open to it and I've been on the phone a lot. If there's something that makes sense, I know the owners will support it economically. It's up to us to bring that to them if we see fit. And if we don't, as I've said earlier, we're very not only comfortable, but we're excited about the group we have here.

"Either way, it's going to be a fun year."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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