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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Jake Arrieta is pitching like an ace again — just in time for free agency - Chicago Tribune

“We’re just trying to win this division, that’s what we’re focused on,” Cubs President Theo Epstein said Friday when asked about Arrieta’s future. “Offseason stuff, we’ll deal with it when the time comes. Nothing has been determined, and that story is not written yet.”

Jim Furtado Posted: August 20, 2017 at 09:42 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, jake arrieta

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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 20, 2017 at 02:56 PM (#5517330)
Wow, unfriendly headline. Isn't he also pitching like an ace as the end of the regular season and the postseason approach?
   2. Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2017 at 04:12 PM (#5517381)
Well, Jake's free agency is a bit more of a sure thing than a Cubs postseason appearance.
   3. Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2017 at 04:14 PM (#5517383)
Anyway, I'd say the headline aptly captures a lot of Cub Nation's frustration with Jake this year. (Not to deny that he's a hugely important part of whatever success they have for the rest of the year, especially with Lester out. And he has in fact looked really good again lately.)
   4. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 20, 2017 at 05:52 PM (#5517519)
Well Cub fans? If he continues to pitch this well through the end of the season, what do you offer him? What do you think he'll be offered in the FA market? Would he consider a hometown discount? I'm not sure where Arrieta is from originally but Chicago is a nice town and obviously the team is well constructed for the next few years, I would think as a player it would be nice to be with a team that has a solid chance of making the postseason every year for the next few years. If it were me, I'd leave a few million on the table for that opportunity.
   5. Brian C Posted: August 20, 2017 at 06:12 PM (#5517546)
I don't know what I'd offer him. I'm glad he's pitching well lately, but I'm still not sure I have much confidence in his next start, much less his next few years.
   6. The Honorable Ardo Posted: August 20, 2017 at 06:25 PM (#5517557)
I have a lot of confidence in Jake. Up until this year, he had allowed 6.3 H/9 IP as a Cub, which isn't sustainable as pitchers age and loses a few ticks of stuff. This year, he's risen to 7.9 H/9 IP, but his walk rate is down and (from my own observations) his command has improved from last year.

He's only 31, with less mileage on his arm than many his age; I think 4/100 for his age 32-35 years would suit the Cubs well.
   7. Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2017 at 07:00 PM (#5517566)
Arrieta's a Texan. The Astros might back up the truck for him, especially if they don't win it all this year.

I'd go 4/100MM for Jake.

Edit: I actually posited this without having seen Ardo's post. We would seem to have a consensus!
   8. McCoy Posted: August 20, 2017 at 07:07 PM (#5517570)
Thank you Jake for all that you've done. I wish you good fortune in the contests to come.

That's what I'd say as he boarded the plane to go to his new home.
   9. Dag Nabbit at Posted: August 20, 2017 at 07:57 PM (#5517594)
Would he consider a hometown discount?

I've heard heard of Arrieta saying he'd give a hometown discount. His agent is Scott Boras. I assume he's going for the best deal. As well he should.

I don't know what I'd offer him, but I can't imagine 4/100 would get it done. The $25 million/year sounds plausible (but it still might be low), but I can't imagine anyway Arrieta accepts an offer for four years. Especially not the way he's pitching now.
   10. Tim D Posted: August 21, 2017 at 09:51 AM (#5517770)
Dude is 67-29, 2.73 as a Cub and they are ready to let him walk. He isn't "bad" at all, he just isn't having as good a year. How winning changes attitudes. Good luck getting anyone better. He gets 5/125 easy, maybe more.
   11. Brian C Posted: August 21, 2017 at 10:15 AM (#5517788)
I don't know that the Cubs are ready to let him walk ... IIRC there's been chatter that they've approached Arrieta for an extension but those talks didn't go anywhere for whatever reason. It may be that Arrieta's just determined to cash out in free agency. And why wouldn't he be? It's the only shot at a big contract he'll likely get.

I'm not sure I'm ready to let him walk either. I honestly have no idea what I'd do if I were the Cubs FO. But it is worth pointing out that he was having a pretty "bad" year until recently. While they're a ways in the rearview, he's had injury concerns in the past and has struggled with his velocity most of this year. His track record of being a high-end pitcher really isn't very long.

I think teams should be cautious about throwing huge deals at pitchers anyway, but even aside from that, he feels to me like a guy whose wheels might fly off at any moment. I'd be sad to see him go, and I hope the Cubs keep him in a general sense, but I have no idea what I would do if the decision was in my hands.
   12. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 21, 2017 at 10:20 AM (#5517793)
Nearly every large FA contract ends poorly for teams, so of course the Cubs are willing to let him walk. But they'll be in the bidding.

   13. Tim D Posted: August 21, 2017 at 10:28 AM (#5517804)
"I think teams should be cautious about throwing huge deals at pitchers anyway..."

But they aren't cautious. So he will get a big deal, and there's no one near as good on the free agent market. Then the Cubs will have to give up assets to get a replacement. That snarky headline from the Trib just underscores what I have heard all year, that Arrieta had a big year but hasn't been all that good since. Arrieta wasn't as dominant last year, and struggled for much of this year. Pitchers do that. But he's still better than most. There is no indication he's about to fall off a cliff. He will get a ton of money, and the Cubs will look pretty silly if they don't fight for him and then trade somebody good to get a less effective replacement.
   14. McCoy Posted: August 21, 2017 at 10:42 AM (#5517819)
Jake was great from 2014 all the way through the Wild Game in 2015. He got by on track in the first couple of months of 2016 before sliding into being simply a good starting pitcher for the rest of the year and slid into being a back of the rotation pitcher for the first half of this year. I don't know if I would want to tie up 30 million a year for 6 or 7 years for that track record.
   15. Brian C Posted: August 21, 2017 at 10:49 AM (#5517827)
He will get a ton of money, and the Cubs will look pretty silly if they don't fight for him and then trade somebody good to get a less effective replacement.

Well sure, if he's going to be better than anyone else they can get, they should try to sign him ... no kidding. That's just a truism. But the question isn't "would it be a good idea to sign him if he's gonna be good?" It's "how good is he going to be, really?"

You say that "there is no indication he's about to fall off a cliff," but I'm not so sure. Declining effectiveness, a history of injuries, age, and a relatively short track record at his current level are all warning signs.

Again, to be clear, I'm not saying he's going to suck or be great or something in between. I think he's a tricky case. I won't be surprised if he keeps up being a decent starter along the lines of his overall numbers this year. But if the wheels do come off quickly, I won't be surprised by that either.
   16. -- Posted: August 21, 2017 at 10:51 AM (#5517829)
No reason to believe he expects a whole lot less than Scherzer got. Little bit of an age difference, but four years prior to free agency:

Scherzer 817 IP, 3.52 ERA
Arrieta 729 IP, 2.67 ERA
   17. Eddie Gaedel Posted: August 21, 2017 at 12:39 PM (#5517911)
They have similar xFIPs over the four years prior to free agency (3.21 for Arrieta, 3.27 for Scherzer), but Scherzer's xFIP trended in the right direction each of the four years prior to FA (3.70, 3.23, 3.16, 3.12) and his two best years with ERA/FIP/IP were his two final years as a Tiger.

Arrieta, OTOH, is unlikely to break 200 IP either of his last two seasons (Scherzer combined for 434 regular season IP). Additionally, Arrieta's two worst seasons by ERA/FIP/xFIP will be the two years leading into FA.

Scherzer got 7/$210M (valued at ~$131M NPV due to deferred payments, would be ~$170M on a more traditional contract).

Unless Arrieta goes for an uber-deferred contract, I think Jon Lester's 6/$155M represents the extreme top end, and given his bumpy 2016-17, 5/$125M is probably about right if he gets hot this fall, or perhaps a Cueto-esque 6/$130M with an opt-out after 2 or 3 years.

No SP signed a big contract heading into 2017, so we need to look at 2016 as the last year for comps:
Chen, 5/$80M
Cueto, 6/$130M
Greinke, 6/$206.5M
Kennedy, 5/$70M
Leake, 5/$80M
Price, 7/$217M
Samardzija, 5/$90M
Zimmermann, 5/$110M
   18. DL from MN Posted: August 21, 2017 at 02:30 PM (#5517983)
Cueto, 6/$130M
Greinke, 6/$206.5M

Yeah, that looks like the range for Arrieta
   19. Brian C Posted: August 21, 2017 at 02:52 PM (#5517992)
Cueto was two years younger than Arrieta will be though. Grienke was the same age before this last contract but has a waaaaay better track record.

I'm not predicting what Arrieta will get, just that I don't think he measures up to either of those guys in terms of future value at time of signing.
   20. Spahn Insane Posted: August 21, 2017 at 03:03 PM (#5517999)
I don't know what I'd offer him, but I can't imagine 4/100 would get it done.

I agree, but that's about as high as I'd go if I'm the Cubs. I don't know how closely that reflects the Cub brass's view on the matter, but I'll be pretty surprised if Jake is a Cub next year.
   21. Tim D Posted: August 21, 2017 at 03:58 PM (#5518042)
So with whom do the "win now" Cubs replace Arrieta?
   22. Hank White Posted: August 21, 2017 at 04:07 PM (#5518047)
I'd go 5/$125M for him, but if anyone wanted to go more in terms of years or AAV then I'll wish him luck.
   23. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 21, 2017 at 04:14 PM (#5518052)
I think they should resign him. Maybe not at any cost, but an overpay would be OK.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 21, 2017 at 04:44 PM (#5518072)
It occurs to me that maybe getting Quintana opened the door to bringing back Arrieta, in that knowing they will have another rotation spot filled on a team-friendly contract for a few years would free up resources and make it less risky to meet Jake's demands.
   25. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 21, 2017 at 05:33 PM (#5518109)
The loss of velocity is real. He has pitched much better in recent weeks, suggesting he has adapted to that condition. But is that sustainable? Will he bounce back in terms of velocity? Or regress further?

Arrieta is quickly catching up with Lester in team lead for pitcher WAR. A lot depends on how the rest of the season goes but I think he will get something in the higher half of those 2016 comps for sure. Five years or more make me nervous, but unless the price is out of control and/or the Cubs pull off improving the rotation some other way, I think they have to do it.

   26. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2017 at 07:16 PM (#5518155)
5 years would take him through the magical age 36. Given his age, he's unlikely to be all that interested in an opt-out although Boras will likely seek one just in case. In AAV, he'll be above Zimmermann, below Verlander ... so yeah, he'll probably get 5/$125. (At present, if he goes on a massive Jake run and throws a couple of playoff shutouts, we're probably talking 5/$140-$150 or a 6th year.)

The Cubs essentially already replaced Arrieta by picking up Quintana. Yu Darvish is also available and he's a year younger and has been just as good since coming back from injury. I'm not quite sure how he does it but Lance Lynn is a year younger and has a career 116 ERA+ although the FIP this year looks scary in his return from injury (but could probably be had for Kennedy/Shark money). There are a few decent guys who would make good 4/5s on a playoff-caliber team -- Garza, Vargas, maybe Tyson Ross on an injury gamble, Feldman, maybe even CC and a few others.

A key question is what's up with Lester. On paper, Lester, Quintana, Hendricks is a perfectly fine top 3. It's not as good as a rotation headed by Kershaw, Sale or Scherzer but only a few teams get that privilege and that's not changed by adding Arrieta or Darvish. Add good 4/5 and hope the offense gets its act together. If Lester is about to miss a year or turn into CC (probably not physically) then the Cubs have legit worries.

Anyway, first things first. Let's get Contreras, Russell and Lester healthy, stabilize the bullpen somehow and figure out our best OF alignments (the best of bad choices). If Jake wants to get super-hot, push us into the playoffs and a round or two farther than we likely deserve, I'm all for it and I won't be the least upset if the Cubs overpay him as a reward as long as that doesn't interfere with other moves.

It's true the rotation has holes to fill this offseason but we need to rebuild the bullpen (again!) and the OF is mediocre at best. Plenty of places for the Cubs to spend money and improve this offseason. If we're going to have to hand out another Lester contract to land Arrieta, we're probably better off spending that money in other ways.

But we all know that it's easy to be cavalier with other people's money. Arrieta now is not a more attractive FA than Lester then and now we're possibly staring at 3/$85 for <400 of average starting. He's not better than Verlander was at the time and, although he's proven durable, the Tigers still had to go through one bad season, and one season with 10 missed starts and still have 2/$56 to go and apparently finding that's not viewed as a particularly valuable asset by the rest of the league. He's not as good as Greinke was and the DBacks have gotten one medicore season and one excellent season ... with a long way and a lot of money to go. You never know, but I doubt the DBacks could have traded Greinke this past offseason without eating money.

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