Chicago Cubs: How Jake Arrieta could get that massive contract

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Jake Arrieta reportedly seeks a deal north of six years and $160 million. You may laugh, but the former Chicago Cubs ace may very well get such a contract.

Jake Arrieta’s asking price is apparently higher than his true value. The 31-year-old righty is apparently expecting a $200 million deal. On the surface, the cost outweighs production an aging pitcher could give a club throughout the better part of a decade. That being said, it’s not impossible that the former Chicago Cubs hurler gets what he’s looking for this offseason.

The Washington Nationals example

The team that signs Arrieta will be near the end of an era. They’ll feel that they still have a window to win in 2018 or 2019, but that a rebuild is imminent after that. Such a team will pay Arrieta, expecting a solid two seasons while they’re still in contention. The latter years of that contract would be the only large contract the team has while they rebuild.

An example of a team near that position would be the Washington Nationals. Some of the Nationals’ most dangerous players, including Bryce Harper, will become free agents at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

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As it stands, the Nationals’ rotation is already one of the best in baseball as it stands. The Nationals don’t need another starting pitcher to make the postseason; they have Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg locked down for the next few years (not to mention Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark).

But Arrieta could help them overcome the hurdle that’s been the NLDS for the Nationals and there’s no such thing as too many dominant starting pitchers in baseball.

Essentially, a team would have to take on Arrieta’s contract knowing they’ll be paying too much for mediocre pitching in the latter part of the deal. But in the former part of it, they would expect greatness in October games.

The Yu Darvish factor

Yu Darvish and Arrieta are in somewhat of a standoff. Whoever signs first could be indicating the market value for the other. Both are righties around the same age. There are two primary things that differentiate the two on the free agent market.

Firstly, Arrieta has shown postseason dominance. He threw a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015. He turned in two on-the-road wins in the World Series in 2016. Darvish, meanwhile, had his 2017 World Series shortcomings well-documented.

Secondly, Arrieta is represented by the best players’ agent in baseball: Scott Boras. Boras is known to get the players he represents the best possible contracts. He’s well aware of how Darvish and Arrieta are rivals in free agency this offseason and is equipped to market his player to be above others in the market.

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Whether or not Arrieta is worth the contract he’s asking for is one question. Whether or not he’ll get it is another. If Darvish signs a deal before him, Arrieta will become the virtually uncontested best starting pitcher available in the free agent market. His asking price seems high, but the state of the market lies in his favor.