Jake Arrieta recently conducted a throwing showcase for teams down in Austin and the report from Jon Heyman is that he “look [sic] very good.” That’s not surprising given Arrieta’s reputation for physical fitness and meticulous preparation, not to mention how he headed into the workout with a chip on his shoulder.
The righty obviously wanted to impress regardless, but he was probably also motivated by a desire to prove doubters wrong after subpar seasons in Philly.
Hear Jake Arrieta look very good at his showcase in Austin, Texas last week. Cubs reunion would be cool but no word on teams yet.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 31, 2021
Heyman mentioned the potential for a Cubs reunion, something that makes sense from more than one angle. Even though they just signed Trevor Williams to a big league deal, they’re still looking for another starter to fill out what figures to be a larger-than-usual rotation. Arrieta would get a soft landing spot in a division that won’t feature many mashers and the Cubs get some much-needed PR spin.
The only issue is that Arrieta might want to earn a little more than the Cubs are willing to spend, as Jesse Rogers noted Sunday evening. Wow, it’s actually really easy to give credit to people who were first with information. In response to a question on Twitter, Rogers said he was hearing a reunion is doubtful because Arrieta’s salary demands are probably more than the Cubs want to spend.
Hearing reunion is doubtful. Salary likely not in line with what Cubs want to spend. https://t.co/RmRjNCTxWh
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) February 1, 2021
That may seem a little odd for a man whose performance has trended steadily downward since 2015 and who will turn 35 in March, but the pitching market has been pretty robust this winter. While we don’t know exactly what the Cubs have in the budget, it does feel like the $2.5 million they gave to Williams might be scraping the ceiling of their comfort level.
Even though some of the money from that deal might be deferred, just as a good chunk of Joc Pederson‘s $7 million guarantee is being paid in the form of a buyout on a mutual option for 2022, Arrieta could be banking on $5 million or more. And as we saw from his desire to be paid following the 2017 season, he’s not exactly keen on the idea of a hometown discount.
There’s also the idea that Arrieta isn’t exactly a significant departure from the trend the Cubs have established in the rotation to this point. They’ve collected a bunch of soft-tossing righties so far and Arrieta hasn’t averaged more than 93.2 mph on his fastball since 2016. Lefty James Paxton touched 94 in a December workout and would be a better fit, though it’s hard to imagine him commanding significantly less than Arrieta at this point.
I’m starting to feel like a Chris Archer reunion might be in the cards, if for no other reason than it’d be funny to see things come full circle. We should find out soon enough, as there’s momentum for the Cubs to get something locked in and give their new staff as much time as possible to work with their pitching infrastructure.