Oh, Anthony. Don’t do things like this to the poor, ever-hopeful, ever-player-attached Cubs fans of the world.
#Cubs Rizzo on Arrieta: "He hasn't signed anywhere so he could pull a Dexter on us and come back in a couple weeks. We'll see what happens"
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 12, 2018
Posting vid of Rizzo on Darvish. Also said this free agency winter has left a "sour taste" in people's mouthes. He hasn't talked to Arrieta lately but referenced a "Dexter" type return. Was wishful thinking, obviously.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) February 12, 2018
As you no doubt realize, having just read about the Cubs’ roster as it stands right now, things are pretty well full and set. Moreover, the Cubs just added Yu Darvish to the rotation, pushing Mike Montgomery into the bullpen. That leaves Tyler Chatwood as the number five, and “next man out” if the Cubs were to pull off the surprise pillow contract for Jake Arrieta, pushing Chatwood to the bullpen, where he’s essentially never pitched. That’s tough to see.
Plus, there’s the fact that the Cubs really like Chatwood’s upside, and signed him to a three-year, $38 million deal so that they could capture that upside in his late-20s. They aren’t looking to create a barrier to him pitching in the rotation.
So, then, a surprise Arrieta return could really only come if (1) his market craters further from here, and (2) the Cubs suffer a serious starting pitcher injury relatively early in Spring Training. I can’t fathom the Cubs signing Arrieta (even to a one-year, cheapy pillow contract) now and figuring that someone will probably get hurt, so “we’ll figure out the details later.” Unlike in the outfield, where, even if it’s crowded and everyone’s healthy, you can still rotate guys around, in the starting rotation, there are set spots that get the ball every five days.
Unless the Cubs were willing to go to a six-man rotation …
Ah, don’t worry. I’m not going to take any of this seriously (even though I do support a six-man rotation, but that’s a topic for another day). The Cubs seem like a weak fit for Arrieta if he was looking for a one-year pillow contract in any case because of the rotation crowding. Not that he wouldn’t get a spot, but wouldn’t he rather go a team where he can be a clear front-end guy? Not one of five guys in an insane rotation full of Number 2s?
So, long story short: this is fun. It was crazy fun when Dexter Fowler suddenly and surprisingly just showed up at Spring Training to announce he was coming back after an offseason of relatively disappointing offers. It’s fun to imagine the same thing with Arrieta.
But as unlikely as it was with Fowler, it’s about 10 times more unlikely with Arrieta.
Then again, the Cubs reportedly did make an offer to Arrieta just before signing Darvish, and maybe Arrieta would feel most comfortable with the team he knows if he were trying to build value, and maybe the Cubs really would consider an atypical starter setup, and maybe …
Nah. Nah. Nah. I’m not going down that road.