This is going to be the big question between now and February 14th when the pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training out in Mesa, Arizona. After a Free Agency Jake Arrieta and his agent, Scott Boras definitely did not want, time is expiring and Arrieta is still a free agent.
The free agency period started on November 2nd, three months ago, but for some reason, Jake Arrieta remains unsigned along with others. The reason? Probably because he wants around $120-$150 million contract which is not reasonable for a 32-year old with just two good seasons. Now the question is, could Jake Arrieta land with the Cubs after all?
Not that a box labeled “49 Arrieta Shoes” on the Cubs Spring Training Truck going out to Arizona isn’t already a big hint, but Jake Arrieta for real could be coming back to the Cubs. Let’s explore some of the reasons why Arrieta might return.
- He’s Already Familiar with the System
Now we know that the Cubs fired Chris Bosio in the offseason and hired Jim Hickey so Arrieta would be working with a new pitching coach, but that’s certainly not a problem. Hickey has worked with some top-notch pitchers within the Astros and Rays organizations which would prepare him to work with the Cubs pitchers, including the possibility of Jake Arrieta. Jake obviously is familiar with the players, Joe Maddon, Wrigley Field, and the Fans so it would be just like he never went to free agency. This would be a very legitimate reason for Arrieta to take less money to stay with the organization he knows because if he does sign with a team like Washington, Houston, or even Milwaukee, it would be a complete adjustment for him which is not good for a 32-year old pitcher.
- He Knows He Can Have Great Numbers for the Cubs
Like we mentioned before, it is hard to adjust to a new organization and especially when it would be just days before pitchers and catchers report. With that would come some adversity and whether he can pitch well enough for what his contract would be worth. With the Cubs in the past three seasons, Arrieta has a 54-24 record along with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. It’s highly unlikely for him to reach those kinds of numbers in his first three seasons in a new city which would be another legitimate reason to return to the Cubs. Plus, he knows he’s playing for a winning team that is a World Series Contender on any given day.
- He Could Pitch in a Deeply Talented Rotation
The Cubs no doubt have probably the best rotation in baseball, with guys like Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood. Now keep in mind, that rotation does not include John Lackey who would be a wild card because he is still unsigned and might not return to the Cubs and just retire. Jake Arrieta once again would be familiar with this rotation and knows he can get consistent starts and pitch in a strong rotation.
For Jake Arrieta, it could all come down to the familiarity aspect over the financial compensation. There is no doubt Arrieta and his agent want significant money and a long contract, but it’s very clear they are not going to get that. The Cubs had offered a 1-year $17.4 million qualifying offer, but Arrieta declined. He is in hopes of a seven-year contract which would have to come down because he would be 40 then.
I think if the Cubs and Jake Arrieta can agree to a deal worth about $100 million over the next 4 seasons, we could see Arrieta land with the Cubs once again after a disastrous free agency.