Chicago Cubs: Suggesting Jake Arrieta to Baltimore is absolutely insane
By Jake Misener
Even floating the idea former Chicago Cubs hurler Jake Arrieta may return to the Baltimore Orioles might be the craziest idea you hear this offseason.
The Chicago Cubs will, in all likelihood, lose right-hander Jake Arrieta this offseason. In fact, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point. But where he’ll wind up? That’s very much up for discussion.
Some of the likelier destinations? The Los Angeles Dodgers. The St. Louis Cardinals. The Houston Astros. Those are just a few that stick out in my mind – but that hardly rules out the other 27 clubs in baseball. But there is one club on that list I can confidently cross off – despite their need for a top-tier starting pitcher.
That team? The Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore took Arrieta with the fifth-round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. This was a guy who was supposed to change the Orioles’ rotation in a big way. Baseball Prospectus ranked Arrieta in the Top 100 prospects in the game ahead of both the 2009 and 2010 seasons. But, as we all know, things didn’t pan out quite as anticipated.
In his Orioles career, the right-hander pitched to a 5.46 ERA in 69 games – including 63 starts. Suffice to say, a 1.472 WHIP leaves more than a little to be desired. Chicago, as we all know, acquired Arrieta in the deal that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore, bringing Arrieta and Pedro Strop to the North Side.
After a dominant run at the Confines, Arrieta sits near the top of this year’s free agent pitching class. He’s got a National League Cy Young to his name – and an unbeaten record in postseason elimination games. That’s more than enough to pique the interest of most big-league clubs.
Bad memories a big factor for any athlete
But, again, despite the interest, it’s hard to imagine Arrieta wanting to go back to Baltimore – despite the fact one of his biggest issues there is no longer on the coaching staff. The right-hander spoke to Tom Verducci in March 2016 – offering up some takes on former O’s pitching coach Rick Adair.
"“I feel like I was playing a constant tug-of-war, trying to make the adjustments I was being told to make and knowing in the back of my mind that I can do things differently and be better. It was such a tremendous struggle for me because as a second and third-year player, you want to be coachable. I knew I got [to the majors] for a reason, and I was confused about why I was changing that now. You feel everybody has your best interests in mind, but you come to find out that’s not necessarily the case.”"
As I noted Adair isn’t even with Baltimore anymore. But it’s hard to imagine Arrieta salivating at the prospect of returning to the Orioles after how his tenure there ended the first time around. And there’s more to it than that, as well.
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Money talks – so does the Orioles’ lack of spending
Baltimore is notorious for two things: not spending big on quality free agents and infamously stingy physicals that have cost more than a couple guys millions of dollars.
After 2018, Manny Machado is as good as gone. The O’s wasted their controllable years with their stud infielder and they’re about to learn what life will be without him. A once enviable core of pitching has rotted away, leaving oft-injured and underperforming arms in the rotation.
Who could save them? Jake Arrieta.
But do you really think the 2015 Cy Young Award winner would risk his life-changing payday on a team that’s picked apart physicals time and time again with pitchers? Absolutely not. Combine his past experiences there with the physicals and lack of real spending and you have all the proof you need that Arrieta isn’t heading back to the Orioles.
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Make no mistake. Jake Arrieta will change a team’s starting rotation heading into 2018. For the Cubs’ sake, let’s hope it’s back in the American League, where they won’t have regular matchups with their beloved right-hander. Even if that’s the case, though, you can safely cross the Orioles off your list.