Chicago Cubs: Is Arrieta prepared to hold out for a preferred contract?
By Tim Stebbins
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, a top MLB free agent is prepared to sit-out until mid-season to receive better contract offers. Could this be Jake Arrieta?
Oh boy, the 2017-18 MLB offseason keeps getting stranger.
After months without much activity, the Hot Stove has heated up as of late. The Chicago Cubs added pitcher Yu Darvish, while the San Diego Padres signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year contract.
Arrieta is available…still.
Outside of these signings, though, MLB free agency’s lack of activity has now leaked into the start of spring training. Many top free agents are still available, including Jake Arrieta, one of the most dominant pitchers in recent seasons.
Arrieta reportedly wants to sign a six or seven-year contract, a length that seems to be too great for MLB teams to commit to.
At this point, it feels like Arrieta would have signed such a deal if teams were willing to offer it. The fact that he is still available could mean the two sides have different opinions regarding his value.
Would Arrieta hold out?
Back to Passan’s article: Arrieta might be willing to wait until he receives better offers:
"Passan said, “Recently, one of the best free agents available this offseason met with a friend, and he admitted something shocking: He was preparing to sit out until the middle of the season. The market for his services this winter was so thin, the offers so incompatible with his production, that he worried he was going to need an external force to compel teams to pay him what his numbers say he’s worth. Maybe it would take a playoff race.”"
Of course, this could be referencing any of the numerous free agents still available. Assuming that this rumor is definitively about Arrieta is unwise.
At the same time, Arrieta has waited nearly an entire offseason for his preferred contract offer. He could be a man on a mission, willing to continue waiting.
Waiting could be wise
Arrieta’s value could suddenly spike after the season starts. A team could lose a star pitcher to injury, for example. A surprise contender (similar to the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers) could emerge and decide to make a big mid-season move.
Essentially, a team might be compelled to pay Arrieta the contract he seeks, like Passan said. However, waiting out for the contract he desires could backfire on Arrieta.
If he waits until mid-season to sign a new deal, Arrieta might see his contract offers lose value. This is a worst-case scenario, but there is no telling what might happen by waiting longer and longer for a contract.
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Of course, this is all speculation, as Passan’s article could be referencing another player. Regardless, one has to respect Arrieta for waiting for a deal he feels is worth his value.