Chicago Cubs: 3 2021 decisions that went up in smoke – #2: Re-signing Jake Arrieta
Although Jake Arrieta was a rotation anchor in his first run on the North Side, re-signing him to a one-year deal was perhaps one of the worst free agent signings in recent memory. Since 2015 when Arrieta was absolutely elite and nearly untouchable, his ERA has spiked and spiked year after year.
Coming off a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in which he pitched to the tune of a 22-23 with a 4.36 ERA, Arrieta signed a one-year pact to return to the Cubs, who had holes to fill in the starting rotation, to say the least. At first glance, those numbers are not half bad until you see they got progressively worse as this tenure with Philadelphia went on.
In 2020, Arrieta recorded a 5.08 ERA and 4-4 record over 44 1/3 innings pitched. The regression signs were already blinding by the time he came back to Chicago. The right-hander had a couple decent starts earlier in the season but quickly unraveled as time went on. In the first half of the season, he was allowing a slash line of .284/.363/.515 to opposing hitters on average to go along with a 6.13 ERA. Things went from bad to worse in the second half – during which he was ultimately released.
Though no longer with the Cubs, Arrieta was picked up by the Padres, who also dumped him after just four starts. He finished the year with a 5-14 record and career-worst 7.39 ERA. The main reason Arrieta takes the cake at number one on this list is simply because he should not have ever been picked up again by Hoyer to begin with.
Regardless of sentiment, Arrieta certainly wasn’t coming off the type of success that a team looking to compete should have been targeting. With the starting rotation being the catalyst for the downfall of the 2021 season, signing Arrieta proved to be one of the bigger hiccups in recent Cubs front office history.