From 2014 to 2017, starting pitcher Jake Arrieta helped anchor the Chicago Cubs rotation on their climb back to postseason play. After he jumped ship and signed with Philadelphia during the 2017 – 2018 offseason, Arrieta has put up consistent career numbers – but could there be a return to Wrigley Field in his future?
Originally signed to a monster three-year, $75 million deal by the Phillies, there were two club options tied onto the back-end of that deal, technically turning it into a five-year, $105 million deal if those two options were to be picked up. But before the team can even get the chance to extend his deal, Arrieta has a player option for $20 million tied to his 2020 contract, which will dictate which jersey he is wearing on Opening Day 2020.
While he was injured during his 2019 season, Arrieta contributed at least 135 innings pitched both seasons for Philadelphia, winning at least eight games in both seasons. While his ERA was around 4.00 each season (3.96 in 2018, 4.64 in 2019), those numbers are within the ballpark of his career average ERA of 3.72.
The Cubs, who have been on record for having many, many impending financial issues staring themselves straight in the face this offseason, would be smart to welcome Jake Arrieta back, obviously only if he was willing to come back on a cheaper deal. Anything that starts in the double-digit millions would have to be a non-starter for Chicago, which is something that will most likely make any sort of a reunion impossible.
Having played for the Baltimore Orioles for the first four seasons of his professional career, followed by the Cubs for the next four, and then the Phillies for (at least) the next two seasons, Arrieta has traveled around the league and has experienced both success and failure. If he were to be looking to reunite with one of his former teams, then entertaining that idea with the Cubs would be a no-brainer.
If money is what speaks to Arrieta the most, then he would be smart to stay in Philadelphia, as the odds are that he would not get any sort of a deal that would be in the neighborhood of $20 million per season. However, if he was looking for a change of scenery but to also get back with a team that he is familiar with, then the Cubs make a ton of sense for the right-hander.
Even though they are undergoing a change at the manager position, this team still has a ton of weapons, provided they do not ship any of them out like they have been rumored to be interested in doing this offseason. Arrieta still has some left in the tank to give to a team, and the 33-year-old, who has just under 1,500 innings pitched in the MLB under his belt, could be a great option for any team, including the Cubs.
In short, yes, the reunion between both Arrieta and the Cubs could work. But with money talking a lot more than it has in the past, Arrieta would be smart to stay with the Phillies and accept his player option for 2020 – the Cubs do not have the accessible funds to pay for this type of reunion, even if Jake Arrieta were to be alright with taking a massive pay cut.