Chicago Cubs still have a chance to find value
Chicago will pay Darvish $18.75 million annually from 2020 to 2023. By contrast, Arrieta will earn $21.67 million through 2022 if Philadelphia picks up both of his team options for 2021 and 2022. So far, the Phillies have gotten more out of their right-hander than the Cubs have theirs.
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But the story is far from over.
If Arrieta’s velocity continues to decline and he gets less and less separation between his fastball and sinker and his offspeed stuff, he may very well trend in the direction a lot of pitchers do in their 30s.
By contrast, Darvish has some of the best swing-and-miss stuff in the league, averaging 11.8 strikeouts per nine, which would rank sixth amongst qualified MLB starters and third in the National League. Health cost him essentially his first year in Chicago – but he still has the time (and the stuff) to rewrite the narrative over the final four-and-a-half years left on the deal.
You can’t find statistics or sabermetrics to quantify the bulldog mentality someone like Jake Arrieta brings to a ballclub. Even in his final year with the Cubs, when the stuff clearly became less dominant, he stepped up when it mattered most and almost always rose to the occasion. The same cannot be said for Darvish in Chicago – at least not yet.
But if you want to feel better about Jake Arrieta pitching against the Chicago Cubs on Monday night, instead of toeing the rubber wearing the team’s home white with blue pinstripes, I think we can say with some certainty that while we miss him and will always cherish what he brought to our beloved team, the time was right for the Cubs to walk away when they did.