Now that the World Series is over, the MLB off-season can officially begin. Today, 149 MLB players filed for free agency. One of the top players in this class could be coming to the Milwaukee Brewers.
MLB Trade Rumors released their top 50 free agents list with predictions as to where each player will land. At the number four spot on this list is Jake Arrieta. While that is not surprising at all, the prediction was. The experts at MLB Trade Rumors listed the Milwaukee Brewers as the landing spot for Arrieta. What?
What would Arrieta cost the Brewers?
The contract they expected for Arrieta was for four years and $100 million, earning Arrieta $25 million a season. Didn’t we already go through this with Matt Garza, albeit for half of the money? Arrieta will be 32 next season and he did have a career resurgence with the Chicago Cubs. However, giving nine figures on a four-year deal to a pitcher on the wrong side of 30 is not the best idea.
Since his ridiculous Cy Young season in 2015, Arrieta has regressed. He has become prone to walks, home runs and short starts. Still, Arrieta pitched to a 3.53 ERA in 30 starts in 2017, which isn’t bad. But it’s also not worth $25 million a season.
MLB Trade Rumors did admit that this was more of a dark horse pick because there is no clear favorite for Arrieta right now. But a return to Chicago is highly unlikely at this point.
If this was the Jake Arrieta from 2015 that the Milwaukee Brewers would be getting they should sign him yesterday. But that’s not what would happen. Brewers GM David Stearns should not pay for past production. He should pay for future production, and Jake Arrieta will not provide enough future production for his salary.
It’s not just the high price tag that takes the Milwaukee Brewers out of consideration. Even it was four years at $80 million it still would seem like a move the Brewers should avoid. The Brewers have taken good, aging pitchers from our rivals in the past and signed them to big deals. Those moves rarely worked out. Arrieta would just join the list of Jeff Suppan, Kyle Lohse, and Matt Garza as free agent failures.
What other roadblocks are there to a deal with Arrieta?
Arrieta would come into free agency looking for a bigger six-year deal according to MLB Trade Rumors and he likely won’t be able to get it. So even if he did come down to earth on his contract expectations it would take at least until January.
Another complicating factor for his market is the $18.1 million Qualifying Offer that the Cubs will extend. It seems unlikely he would accept one. But if one is extended to him, the signing team would have to fork over a draft pick to get him. MLB Trade Rumors has a great explanation of the new QO rules.
Basically, if the Milwaukee Brewers sign Arrieta or any player after he rejects a qualifying offer, they would have to forfeit their third highest draft pick in the 2018 draft. That pick would be the Comp Bround pick for the Crew.
There are a large number of teams looking for starting pitching and Arrieta will have a number of teams that want his services. But the price they would be willing to pay will vary. The Milwaukee Brewers may very well call Jake Arrieta and express interest, but Stearns will not want to get into a bidding war for the former Cubs ace.
With the team now setting up for a contending run, the Brewers could be in on more top free agents than before, but Arrieta still seems like a long shot. The Brewers do need starting pitching. A top of the rotation starter would make a great addition with Jimmy Nelson out for most of the 2018 season. However, overpaying for Jake Arrieta is a bad idea.