Former Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta heads a weak starting pitching free agent class. While demand for a proven starter is high, where should Arrieta sign?
Jake Arrieta burst onto the scene in 2015, tallying 22 wins and pitching to a 1.77 ERA in his Cy Young-winning campaign. He then led the Cubs rotation in 2016 and helped bring home the cities first championship in 108 years. After a solid season in 2017, in which he posted a 14-10 record with an ERA of 3.53, Arrieta’s contract with the Cubs is up.
He rejected the Cubs’ qualifying offer this offseason and is an unrestricted free agent. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that Jake Arrieta is “probably gone” indicating that the 31-year-old right-hander will likely sign with another ball club. The Milwaukee Brewers have already shown interest in Arrieta, and could really solidify that rotation.
Arrieta is arguably the best starting arm of the free agent class. With a reunion in Chicago unlikely, what are some possibly spots he could end up?
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees already have arguably the best bullpen in baseball and have a solid rotation as is. With Luis Severino coming off a career year, Masahiro Tanaka looking sharp at the end, and newly acquired Sonny Gray already holding down the rotation, adding one more reliable arm could bolster the Yankees staff. They need another arm and are going to get one this offseason, and signing Arrieta could really give this team that edge they need. They have the money and history, and while it didn’t work with Otani, things might be different with Arrieta.
On paper, the Nationals have one of the best teams in baseball. Unfortunately for them, you need to win in the playoffs to be considered successful. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg were the best one-two punch in the National League last year, with Gio Gonzalez providing a reliable and durable third arm. You throw Jake Arrieta in there, a veteran who has shown he can win in the postseason and knows a thing about curses, and that makes them a real threat in the National League.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are coming off a very disappointing season, finishing third in the NL Central and not reaching the playoffs. With the loss of Lance Lynn to free agency, the Cardinals are looking to replace him with a reliable arm. Arrieta could end up switching teams in this division, and provide a little stability with that rotation. Aside from Lynn, Carlos Martinez was the only starting pitcher with an ERA under 4.00. Arrieta could be that front-end guy with Martinez to give the Cardinals a better shot at taking down the Cubs and Brewers for the divisional crown.
The Brewers, Yankees, Nationals, and Cardinals all look like the front-runners for where Arrieta could sign. He is going to want to get paid and go to a place where he can win. All four of these teams offer that for him, all being possible World Series contenders for 2018. Arrieta is going to make an impact wherever he goes, and will go quickly during this offseason.