One of the symbols of this MLB free agency being one of patience and waiting out is Jake Arrieta, one of the top pitchers on the market, still without a team. While there have been a number of suitors, he’ll likely end up with the St. Louis Cardinals or simply go back to the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs seem to be leaning towards landing Yu Darvish, but they’re not alone in that race, while the Cardinals are putting Arrieta as their number one options. The main reason Arrieta hasn’t been signed yet is the price. While in November and December we heard talks of a six-year, $160 million deal going to the almost 32-year old righty, the latest rumors which put the Cubs back in Arrieta’s picture (in their words: We’ve never ruled out anything with him) suggest it’ll be a four-year, $110 million deal. It’s even better for him per year, but his slight decline these last two years is keeping the Cubs from looking more passionate about reuniting with the Cy Young winner.
And while Arrieta has been one of the best pitchers in Baseball over the last four seasons, he definitely seems to have peaked in 2015, followed by two very good seasons, but with the arrow definitely pointing down. He had an 1.77 ERA in ’15, a 4.92 SO/W ratio and a league-best in both allowed hits and home runs per nine innings.
In 2016 and 2017, despite winning a World Series and putting in a fantastic performance against the Indians (2-0, 2.38 ERA), it’s been a little less perfect for him, and a lot less consistent. The numbers: 3.30 ERA, 1.146 WHIP, 2.60 SO/W. Good numbers, and he’s had elite stretches at times, but it’s certainly something to consider when he wants a contract that takes him almost into his 40’s.
Just like with the hitters and Giancarlo Stanton, Darvish is holding up this market. Once the mystery of where he’s going to is solved, the business of Arrieta’s next team will be solved a lot quicker. And while the Cards and Cubs look like the leading names on the shortlist right now, things could change once Arrieta is the top name among remaining starting pitchers in free agency.