Most Chicago Cubs fans don’t see it as realistic that the team can sign Jake Arrieta before free agency. For one, Scott Boras is his agent. But Tom Ricketts said he will leave the decision to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, trusting in their judgment.
The writing is very much on the wall when it comes to the Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta. His rise from a talented but struggling starter in Baltimore to one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers will command top dollar. With players like Jon Lester and Jason Heyward already on the books for long-term, big money deals–adding another in Arrieta might be possible, but not a smart business move.
Tom Ricketts isn’t going to be the owner that puts in his two cents in for the Cubs, instead, leaving the decision to the people he entrusted this plan with five years ago. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will have their first big free agent decision since they arrived. It’s no longer about scoring the better player in a lopsided deal. Instead, deciding if they should sign one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last three years to a long-term extension.
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In 2016, the Cubs had to pay a luxury tax–$2.96 million—for the first time in their history. When you think about contracts like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano, that’s a bit of a surprise. If Arrieta is to get a deal like Boras is thinking–in the range of $200 million–that luxury tax figure would skyrocket.
Possible, but not probable
"“We’ll be thoughtful and strategic about when we go over the tax and when we don’t,” Ricketts said."
While it’s possible that Arrieta could sign an extension with Chicago, it seems unlikely. Arrieta has been clear that he would like to stay with the Cubs. But there will be no hometown discounts given, especially when Boras is the man on the other side of the table.
Epstein and Hoyer have proven to be crafty in making deals. But when it comes to a player getting what he deserves, there’s no way around it. And with a pitcher of Arrieta’s age, it’s always a tricky conversation. Even though he’s in top physical shape, age will play a factor. This will once again be a case of “trust the plan” for the Cubs.