The Chicago Cubs are bringing back Jake Arrieta, but where does he fit in their starting rotation this time around?
The Chicago Cubs may, in time, not have any of the core of their 2016 championship team around. But they’re bringing a key piece of that team back, agreeing to a one-year-deal with right-hander Jake Arrieta on Friday. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reported Arrieta will get $6 million.
The Cubs acquired Arrieta, then a struggling young pitcher, from the Baltimore Orioles in 2013. To say it worked out quite well would be an understatement. He posted a 2.53 ERA in his first full season, won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015 and won 18 games in 2016. Even in 2017, Arrieta was solid (3.53 ERA over 30 starts).
Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018. The signs of regression he showed in 2017 (4.16 FIP) played out in Philadelphia, with ERAs of 3.96, 4.64 and 5.08 over the three seasons to give him a combined 4.36 ERA over 352.2 innings (64 starts).
Where does Jake Arrieta fit in the Cubs’ rotation now?
With the trade of Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres, the Cubs have Kyle Hendricks as their No.1 starter now. Zach Davies (who came from the Padres in the Darvish deal), Alec Mills, free agent signing Trevor Williams and Adbert Alzolay would have filled out the rotation before Arrieta was signed.
Arrieta, for better or worse, will get plenty of starts for the Cubs in 2021. He’ll probably bump Alzolay out to the bullpen, with Hendricks and Davies as the most proven options that will be ahead of him in the pecking order.
At 35 years old by Opening Day (March 6), Arrieta is no longer even close to the pitcher he was for the Cubs in his prime. But fans yearning for a bit of nostalgia this year, as the roster likely continues to get pulled apart, can try to latch on to his return.