I don’t think anyone will confuse the San Diego Padres for an immediate contender. With the top of the NL West stacked, and with the Padres’ best group of players still properly classified as “prospects,” it feels like their time might still be a year or two away.
Still, they went out and spent big on Eric Hosmer (whose “impact” value is debatable, but whose age aligned with the Padres’ desires), and I suppose if they made another big addition it wouldn’t be utterly insane to think they could challenge for a Wild Card spot. Baseball is crazy sometimes.
But is it this crazy:
#padres already signed the biggest free agent of the year, and now sources say they have checked in on the biggest player/pitcher remaining. it's probably a long shot, but they are thinking about it, anyway. https://t.co/BDl3GbrrZh
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 8, 2018
As you’d expect, the Padres – like many teams, I’d reckon – are kicking around this idea, but interested only at a “bottom fishing” level. That is to say, according to Heyman, they check in periodically to take the temperature on Arrieta and other free agent pitchers like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn to see if they might take a deal that the Padres could fit.
That seems unlikely at this point, and just as Scott Boras raised the specter of Mike Moustakas possibly sitting out past the draft yesterday, it sounds like Arrieta (another Boras client) could be willing to wait, too. Per Heyman: “[W]ord around Arrieta has been that he isn’t anxious to sign what he considered an under-market deal, and also that he has the fortitude to wait things out.”
If Arrieta and Boras still see something above Yu Darvish’s six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs as “market” for Arrieta, they could be waiting a very long time. I simply don’t see that kind of contract coming for Arrieta no matter how long he waits.
Instead, he may have to take the kind of deal that JD Martinez (another Boras client) finally took from the Red Sox: shorter term and lower total guarantee than expected, but front-loaded with multiple early opt-outs. If that kind of deal even materializes this year.
In the meantime, we keep watching this closely, and not only because of the direct impact on the Cubs’ draft (if Arrieta signs before the draft in June, the Cubs get an extra pick (and bonus pool money) after the second round; if he doesn’t, they don’t). We also watch this closely because of the potential impact Arrieta could have on the NL playoff races, especially if he winds up in Milwaukee or St. Louis.