Teams eyeing shorter-term deal with Arrieta


The standstill market among the most high-profile free agents continues, and it’s unclear if the dust will settle by the time pitchers and catchers report.

Among the notable arms that may not be in camp on Day 1 is Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner who is arguably the best starter on the market.

The standstill market among the most high-profile free agents continues, and it’s unclear if the dust will settle by the time pitchers and catchers report.

Among the notable arms that may not be in camp on Day 1 is Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner who is arguably the best starter on the market.

:: Free agent buzz ::

Teams interested in “high-salary/short-term” deal
Should Arrieta reach a stage where he feels a long-term deal may not be in sight, perhaps not at the dollar value or length he seeks, the right-hander may have a breadth of job opportunities available. There are multiple teams “very interested” in discussing a high-salary deal with Arrieta, but on a shorter term, according to a report by ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Arrieta has been linked to the Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies and Nationals, though none of those reports have manifested into anything that indicates a deal is even close to culminating.

Though he has shown flashes as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball as recently as just three seasons ago, advanced metrics, a noticeable dip in velocity and less command of the strike zone all suggested that Arrieta possesses some potential long-term question marks. Those concerns may have prompted prospective suitors to temper their pursuit of a long-term deal with Arrieta, who was widely considered to land one of the most lucrative contracts as recently as just a year or two ago.

Though he is just five months older than Yu Darvish, and hasn’t undergone major surgery like the Tommy John procedure Darvish underwent in 2015, Arrieta’s market has been far more stagnant this winter, at least in the public realm. The Cubs showed far more interest in Darvish before agreeing to a five-year deal with the free-agent righty, which led USA Today’s Bob Nightengale to speculate on a red flag relating to Arrieta — essentially, if the Cubs, who nurtured Arrieta into one of the best pitchers in the game, were more interested in an external option, “What do the Cubs know about him that the rest of baseball doesn’t?” — This report was first posted on Feb. 9.

Could Nationals pursue Arrieta?
Linking the relationship between Scott Boras, Arrieta’s agent, and Boras’ relationship with Nationals owner Tom Werner, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale speculated a potential union between the two parties in a Feb. 7 report, though Nightengale referenced no indication that they were engaged in active discussions.

The Nationals had expressed interest in Arrieta during the Winter Meetings, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, as a potential option to shore up the back end of its already formidable rotation. General Manager Mike Rizzo said at the time that he would be comfortable with in-house options, such as A.J. Cole or Erick Fedde, taking the fifth rotation spot to follow Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark.

In Washington, Arrieta would be the third power right arm to go with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, who are also Boras clients. Boras has struck deals worth a combined $385 million for the two since the ’15 offseason. Boras also represents Bryce Harper, who is expected to net among the most lucrative free agent deals in history next winter. — This report was first posted on Feb. 7.

Hot Stove Tracker

Arrieta appears ready to hold out for right deal
Arrieta, who is entering his age-32 season and is just two years removed from a historic season in 2015, finished the 2017 campaign with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 30 starts. He was among the most significant pieces of a multiyear Cubs rebuild that culminated with a championship in ’16, and he has been linked to several clubs this offseason.

In January, USA Today reported that the Cubs would be willing to bring Arrieta back on a four-year, $110 million deal, though it’s believed that the right-hander is seeking a longer deal and Chicago has since added Yu Darvish. The Brewers, who have fortified their lineup but are still in need of a top-of-the-rotation starter, are believed to have made a similar offer in length. CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine reported in early January that the Cardinals have also shown interest in Arrieta.

Levine reported in November that the starting point for negotiations between clubs and Boras were in the six-year, $160 million range. While it seems unlikely that Arrieta will net a contract of that figure, the highly competitive hurler appears to be willing to wait for the right offer.

The standstill market among the most high-profile free agents continues, and it’s unclear if the dust will settle before next week, when pitchers and catchers report. — This report was first posted on Jan. 3.



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