After the Cubs lost in Game 5 of the NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers, most around baseball thought Jake Arrieta had suited up the Cubs for the last time. The team had pursued an extension on several occasions with the right-handed pitcher, but to no avail. Super agent Scott Boras has made it known how highly MLB clubs should value Arrieta, suggesting Arrieta deserves a 7 year deal at $30 million a year, similar to what Max Scherzer got a couple offseasons ago. That price tag was deemed to be out of the Cubs’ comfort zone, especially for a guy who will turn 32 before the 2018 season begins.
Change in plans?
However, the market for Arrieta and other top free agent starter Yu Darvish has developed relatively slowly. We have passed the New Year’s mark, and neither pitcher has received an offer to their liking. Could the Cubs now have a clearer route to bringing back their 2015 Cy Young winner? According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Cubs are willing to offer Arrieta 4 years and $110 million. Earlier in the offseason, Arrieta probably would have laughed off this offer. However, with pitchers scheduled to report to Spring Training in less than 2 months, maybe he would be a little more willing to accept this offer.
Arrieta vs. Darvish
If the Cubs are willing to offer that much for a free agent starter, the debate then becomes: Arrieta vs. Darvish. Who would the Cubs like to have more? Earlier in the offseason, I would have said Arrieta because he’s the more known commodity with the Cubs and Darvish struggled mightily in the World Series. Now though, I would have to go with Darvish. Arrieta has regressed in each of the last 2 seasons after his Cy Young campaign. Expecting him to repeat his 2015 season would be ridiculous, but Arrieta hasn’t even been close to that in either of the last 2 years. If the Cubs could get either pitcher for similar contracts, the Cubs would be smart to choose Darvish.
Photo: Wittenmyer/Chicago Sun Times