Jake Arrieta is one of the top free agent arms on the market, but the hot stove has been frozen all offseason.
Jake Arrieta has been one of the best pitchers in the game over the past few years. He was expecting a major payday, but this offseason is one to be remembered for its paint-drying levels of excitement. There hasn’t been a big free agent signing since Lorenzo Cain, which was for $80 million. Also, that might be one of the more lucrative contracts we see before spring training.
Arrieta revitalized his career with the Chicago Cubs. His best years with the club were in 14-15, when he tossed a 2.53 and a 1.77 ERA respectively. The starting pitcher stayed off his cutter with the Orioles, and Chicago embraced it and led to his success. Since the righty is going to be 32 heading into the 2018 season, many teams are wary on signing a long-term deal.
ESPN’s Buster Olney says that there are teams willing to go on short term deals.
So, which teams could be suitors. A lot of teams are looking to stay under the luxury tax threshold for the spending spree in 2019. With that said, there are a couple teams that could take the flier on a shorter deal. The first team that comes to mind is the Philadelphia Phillies. They are coming out of their rebuild and need key veterans to augment their young core. Also, they have the lowest payroll in the league at around $45 million.
But this team might be waiting on next year’s star-studded class to make some big splashes. On the other hand, they could make a win-now move and expedite the process by signing Arrieta. He would be a guy that can mentor the younger pitchers as well as be the ace of the staff. The Phillies aren’t a small market club, so if the Arrieta deal doesn’t go as planned it shouldn’t kill them in the long run. They will still have gobs of money to boot.
Another club to pay attention to may be the Arizona Diamondbacks. This seems out of nowhere, but it could be a possibility. Since the club still has a chance with slugger J.D. Martinez, they have money to spend. If they miss out on him, would they make a splash for an ace starting pitcher? A nice 1-2-3 punch of Greinke, Arrieta and Walker would arguably give them the best combo in the NL West, barring a Yu Darvish signing in LA.
The final team that could make a surprise short-term deal could be the Washington Nationals. They have been rumored to be interested in him all offseason, but maybe the years and price point haven’t matched up. GM Mike Rizzo has dealt with Boras in the past, and will have to do again next year if they want Bryce Harper back. So the Nats could make another win-now move to keep the Harper contention window wide open and sign Arrieta. A rotation of Scherzer, Strasburg, Arrieta and co. would be one of the best in October.
Arrieta may have to take a short-term deal. If teams are willing to give more in the short-term, he’ll still be fine in the long-term. Playing baseball for millions of dollars should set you up for life. He hasn’t been successful for all of his career, so it feels like he’s going to get paid for short-term success.