Before the Chicago Cubs finalized their six-year, $126 million deal with today’s starter, Yu Darvish, they made a final call to outgoing free agent Jake Arrieta. It was a professional courtesy, to be sure, but there was also a legitimate offer there.
Per Jon Heyman, when Theo Epstein made that call, the Cubs offered Arrieta a very reasonable six years and $120 million. It’s a million bucks less per year than they ultimately paid Darvish, but still a healthy commitment.
That said, Heyman adds that the Cubs already had a strong sense that Arrieta would decline, believing that his AAV should be much higher (he signed with the Phillies on a complicated deal that, on paper, comes with a $25 million AAV (three years, $75 million guaranteed)). Arrieta’s preference for a higher AAV was an issue for the Cubs, who wanted to bring down the AAV as much as possible on any big pitcher deal so that they could stay under the luxury tax this year. Hence, Darvish’s deal made more sense for them, even if they liked the pitchers equally (which, by all accounts, they … probably did not).
Heyman adds that the Cubs also eventually made a four-year, $48 million offer to Alex Cobb (after signing Tyler Chatwood, but before signing Yu Darvish, obviously). Cobb ultimately got $57 million from the Orioles over four years, though the deferred money in the deal makes it worth something closer to $47 million.
In the end, it seems the Cubs were reasonable in their offers to other starting pitchers this offseason, but likely really wanted Darvish all along (whose deal continues to also look reasonable by contrast).
Arrieta was a tremendously important member of the Chicago Cubs over the past several years, and I’m glad he got a deal he was happy with. I’m also glad that, for what the Cubs were looking to accomplish, they got the guy they wanted on the deal they wanted.