Since the postseason concluded, Jake Arrieta has been among the best available talent on the free agent markets. Despite his value, Arrieta hasn’t been able to find a deal to his liking. As opening day looms, is the right-hander gaining or losing dollars by stalling his signing?
This offseason has been famously slow. By February, some baseball fans started whispering conspiracies of collusion—or at the least, a collective unwillingness among top MLB minds to pay for expensive free agents. But then the Cubs guaranteed Yu Darvish $126 million, the Padres agreed to their franchise’s all-time biggest contract, and the Red Sox signed J.D. Martinez to a complicated, but an expensive contract.
The recent big spending done by MLB teams shows that it’s the available talent that is perpetuating the slow market rather than a possible new era of teams being unwilling to spend. As the market shifts, will it trend in Arrieta’s favor?
Teams are interested in Arrieta
It’s not that no one wants Arrieta on their team. Instead, there’s a significant difference between what teams think Arrieta is worth and what he and his agent Scott Boras think he’s worth.
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The Phillies and Nationals are two of the teams rumored to have been in touch with Arrieta. The Phillies aren’t quite far enough into their rebuild to consider themselves an immediate threat to claim the NL East, but young players like Rhys Hoskins could help them sneak into a Wild Card game.
The Nationals should reappear in the postseason in 2018 with relative ease with or without an Arrieta acquisition. But such an acquisition could be just enough for them to get over their well-documented struggles in the ALDS.
The last free agent standing
MLB teams are playing games every day now, and Arrieta is still a free agent. If he’s willing to hold off, which apparently he is, it could end up working out in his favor.
When baseball is played, injuries happen. Unfortunately, an arm that a contender is counting on could succumb to a season-ending injury at any time. Such an injury could force a team’s hand, resulting in their signing Arrieta for a price closer to what he’d like.
Waiting out the market this offseason initially was made out to be a sign of desperation from free agents. But given what we’ve seen recently, patience just might be the new way of getting a maximum contract.
Jake Arrieta would surely rather sign a deal sooner than later. However, given the results of other free agents, his patience in the market just might pay off.