Although overt connections have yet to manifest themselves for too many teams, we know that there will be plenty of interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta this offseason. The whole process kinda got pushed back by Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton, but now with those stories fully unfolded and the Winter Meetings upon us, you’re going to see the market for Arrieta clarifying in short order.
Which is not to say that Arrieta will necessarily sign in short order, since his agent, Scott Boras, is plenty comfortable taking his clients deep into the offseason to get the best deals he can. With the valuations on Arrieta ranging from four years (where the Cubs probably would be) to upwards of six or seven (where Boras and Arrieta undoubtedly want to be), this could take a while.
In the meantime, there are certain obvious best guesses for where Arrieta might fit – the Rangers and Mariners have plenty of need and money, and maybe the Angels will want to add a significant arm now that they got Ohtani on the cheap. We’ve also already heard about the Brewers’ interest, which makes a ton of sense to me as they look to turn the corner (and cover Jimmy Nelson’s injury).
Now, according to Ken Rosenthal, you can include the Astros as an interested team:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2017
You’ll have to subscribe to The Athletic to get the full rundown on how the Astros, with a dense rotation as is, are looking to add a significant starter like Arrieta or Yu Darvish.
The Astros’ situation is, in many ways, not unlike the Cubs of recent years: loaded and full up on the positional side, very solid on the pitching side, but always in need of supplementing. Consider that Dallas Keuchel is a free agent after this season (ditto Charlie Morton), and Justin Verlander is a free agent after the next (ditto Collin McHugh). There’s a lot of turnover set to hit the reigning world champs, and maybe they’ll feel like now is the time to get a veteran pitcher in on a long-term deal. And Arrieta is from Texas, so there’s at least a geographic connection there.
That said, having taken on Verlander’s contract, and with arbitration raises looming, it’s not clear if the Astros are ready to be a huge spender once again after so many lean years.
As for the Cubs, they figure to remain in the weeds on Arrieta (and Darvish), playing things opportunistically only if his market doesn’t develop, and their own alternative rotation plans (Cobb?) don’t play out as hoped.
If and when Arrieta signs elsewhere, the Cubs will receive a 2018 draft pick after the second round.