In a couple of days, Jake Arrieta will become a free agent for the first time in his career. There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding free agency, and what a player owes to a team or fanbase. I try to warn fans every year, take the insane amount of dollars out of the equation. Look at free agents as to how you would look at a friend or family member switching employers. You hope that they find a great job (baseball seems to be a great job) for an organization that treats them well (most baseball organizations are great) that pays them more than they were paid at their previous employer. If that all happens you congratulate them, wish them well, and are truly happy for them.
For some reason professional sports, whether it is the emotional ties or the fact that they are paid an incredible amount of money, people end up freaking out when a player leaves. Just don’t be that fan.
Now, onto the news…
MLB Trade Rumors has predicted that Jake Arrieta will move 90 miles north to Milwaukee and MLB suggests that Jake will end up in Texas. It isn’t where they believe he will end up, it is the final price tag that is interesting.
Jake’s 2.67 ERA over the last four seasons is the second lowest in baseball over that span. While a lot of that was due to his ridiculous CY Young season in 2015, he was able to reinvent himself yet again in 2017 and owned a 2.28 ERA down the stretch this season.
I tend to believe Jake will be more open to playing in Texas, after all, it is his home. He also attended TCU there in Texas. Texas is expected to spend this offseason, and t would also be attractive to pair Jake up with Cole Hamels. In a division which features the World Series champs in the Houston Astros, pitching will be important.
But again, it isn’t the landing spot that is interesting, it is the years and dollar amount.
In the offseason after the 2015 season, the Cubs approached Jake for an extension. Jake turned it down as free agent money for starting pitching was insane in the league. It was also expected that Jake would model his next deal after the contract Zack Greinke signed in Arizona. Greinke, who was entering his age 33 season (Jake will be 32) earned a six-year contract worth $206.5 million. With an average annual salary of $34.4 million, Jake was pegging that sort of mega-deal in 2017.
Then 2016 hit. Jake was a huge part of the World Series win, but was hit hard in June. After June Jake owned a 4.06 ERA, and many within the Cubs and fans began to question if he would be worth the long-term investment. But even with his struggles, and waining confidence in him, Jake and his agent Scott Boras continued to drum the big Greinke-like deal.
This is why it is surprising to see MLB Trade Rumors suggest that Jake will settle for a four-year $100 million deal. This is a deal in which I would think the Cubs would be comfortable agreeing to, so I wonder if a previous theory I had about Jake could come to fruition?
I had mentioned in the past that if the league scares away from Jake’s price-tag, he could back off of a number of years he is looking for. MLB Trade Rumors seems to have picked up on that suggestion (I am not saying, Tim Dierkes, read Chicago Style Sports and built his prediction off of mine). But this could very possibly happen.
I think Jake Arrieta at six-years $200 million is very hard to swallow and only three or four teams could enter conversations with him at that price point. But Jake Arrieta at four-years $100 million can get more than half the league involved (if they have an interest, of course) which could create a bidding war for his services. He would also create a second free agency period for himself after the 2022 season, where he would be 36 and potentially still effective. This could be that last championship hunting deal similar to John Lackey in Chicago.
So I pose the question to you, would you like to see Jake Arrieta back with the Cubs if they could do it on a manageable four-year contract valued at $100 million? Is $25 million a season still too much? Even if it had like $5 million in annual signing bonus payouts? Let us know in the comments below.