Cubs Rumors: Money likely to keep a Jake Arrieta reunion from happening

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

For those of you hoping to get a glimpse of Jake Arrieta back in the home pinstripes in 2021, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely it’ll happen.

Arrieta, who turns 35 next month, threw for interested teams in Texas on Friday and looked “very good,” according to Jon Heyman. And while the Cubs had multiple people at that showcase and there is at least “some interest” in a reunion between the two sides, Chicago beat writer Jesse Rogers poured rain on that on Sunday.

Yeah, I should’ve probably seen that coming. Look, you all know the history here. Arrieta turned in arguably the best half-season of pitching the game has ever seen to close out 2015, capped by dominating the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game at PNC Park. That year, he added his name to the short list of Cubs’ 20-game winners, took home NL Cy Young honors and was a fan favorite in the Windy City.

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He followed it up with another stellar, if not quite as otherworldly, showing in 2016, winning 18 games and working to a 3.10 ERA in just under 200 innings of work. For good measure, he won a Silver Slugger and played a critical role in the team’s timeless comeback in the Fall Classic.

Cubs saw the writing on the wall

By 2017 it was pretty clear Arrieta wasn’t what he once was – albeit still capable of going out and dominating opposing lineups here and there. His FIP rose from 2.35 in 2015 all the way to 4.16 two years later and he’d started to lose some velocity. Seeing all this, Chicago opted to go with Yu Darvish over Arrieta in free agency – and the right-hander inked an ill-fated three-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Things didn’t go well in the City of Brotherly Love. In those three years, he limped to a 4.36 ERA, tossing a total of just 352 2/3 innings during that stretch. Given he made $30, $25 and $20 million, respectively, during those campaigns, it’s safe to say the Phillies didn’t get an ideal return on their investment.

Given his struggles the last few years – including 2020, when he  ranked in the bottom six percent of the league in whiff rate, bottom eight percent in xBA and bottom 13 percent in strikeout percentage. His fastball, which once averaged 95 MPH, came in at just 91.9 and his sinker fell in the same range.

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Look, Arrieta isn’t what he was five years ago (few of us are, really). But the Cubs need arms and given his struggles over the last three seasons, it sure felt like things were lining up in terms of a reunion. But, at least right now, it doesn’t seem like that’s in the cards for either side.