Chicago Cubs: Joe Maddon says Jake Arrieta is ‘probably gone’

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta /

As the Baseball Winter Meetings approach, it’s looking increasingly likely that starting pitcher Jake Arrieta will not be returning to the Chicago Cubs. 

The Hot Stove has been relatively cool thus far, though that’s bound to change as we move further into the month of December. Fans on the North Side might be disappointed to hear that chances are slim Jake Arrieta returns to the Chicago Cubs.

Many already assumed Arrieta would not be re-signing with the Cubs, and manager Joe Maddon has more or less reaffirmed that belief. On Friday, Maddon went on WSCR-AM 670 and said “Jake’s probably gone.”

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Possible reasons for Arrieta’s departure

Even for fans who were hopeful of Arrieta returning, this shouldn’t come as much of a shock. The Cubs have been trying for the last two years to extend Arrieta. But no progress has ever been made on that front.

Arrieta has long been adamant that he can and will pitch until he’s 40 years old. That could very well end up being the case. However, it doesn’t appear as though the Cubs are willing to take that leap of faith with him.

The 2015 NL Cy Young winner has stated he wants a six or seven year deal. The Cubs, though, don’t seem keen on the idea of signing him for that long. Arrieta will turn 32 in March. So from the Cubs’ perspective, it’s understandable that they’d be weary of keeping him into his late thirties.

Overall, the right-hander had a good season in 2017. He went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA. But it was a bit of a roller coaster, and Arrieta has shown some signs of regression in the past couple years. He’s lost more than two miles per hour off his average fastball velocity since 2015. That certainly doesn’t help his case.

Both his WHIP and FIP have also been trending in the wrong direction.

Next: Does Hector Rondon have a future with the Cubs?

Arrieta’s Cubs legacy

The chances of Arrieta returning to the Cubs never looked particularly good. They look even worse now. Regardless, Chicago could still have one of the better rotations in the NL Central. They can get someone like Alex Cobb for a much cheaper price to bolster an already adequate pitching staff. The team could also add a starter via trade, whether that’s this winter or at the July trade deadline. This could help them save some dollars for next year’s free agent class, which is loaded with star players.

Jake Arrieta played a major role in getting the Chicago Cubs their first World Series championship in over a century. His run in 2015 was one of one of the most dominant displays of pitching in baseball history. Even if he signs elsewhere, he’s sure to be remembered fondly on the North Side.