The Chicago Cubs and free-agent starting pitcher Jake Arrieta reached an agreement on a one-year deal, pending physical, according to multiple reports on Friday, including FanSided’s Robert Murray and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Arrieta will be rejoining the club after he last pitched for the Cubs in 2017, a year after winning a World Series with Chicago in 2016.
Arrieta is heading to his age-35 season and pitched to a 5.08 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in nine starts last season for the Phillies. He struck out only 32 while walking 16 in 44 1/3 innings. In his three years in Philly, Arrieta went from a 3.96 to 4.64 to 5.08 ERA while his strikeout rate dropped and hits-allowed rate rose.
Behind Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies and Alec Mills, Arrieta figures to be next in line for a rotation spot. There’s also Trevor Williams, Adbert Alzolay, Kohl Stewart, Shelby Miller and several others. Arrieta isn’t a sure thing to stick, either, despite the lack of “wow” factor here.
Basically, he’s a lottery ticket signing at this point.
It is, however, newsworthy due to the reunion aspect. Check out Arrieta’s three stops in his career:
- Orioles: 358 IP, 20-25, 5.46 ERA
- Cubs: 803 IP, 68-31, 2.73 ERA
- Phillies: 352 2/3 IP, 22-23, 4.36 ERA
He was traded to the Cubs in 2014 along with Pedro Strop (who ended up one of the most productive reliever in Cubs history) for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. He ended up making 25 starts in 2014 and many don’t realize just how good he was on the mostly-ignored Cubs team that year. He even finished ninth in Cy Young voting.
The following season, Arrieta won the Cy Young after going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 236 strikeouts in 229 innings. He had four complete games and two shutouts. From June 21 (a shutout in Minnesota) through the end of the regular season, Arrieta was 16-1 (the Cubs were 18-2) with a 0.86 ERA in 20 starts. He then threw a shutout in the wild card game.
Next season, Arrieta again finished ninth in Cy Young voting while the Cubs won the World Series. Arrieta won both of his World Series starts and even took a no-hitter into the sixth in Game 2.
Again, this signing is mostly nostalgia, but who knows? Pitching for the Cubs is the only place Arrieta found sustained success in the majors. For whatever it’s worth — likely not much — Arrieta had a 1.43 ERA in 82 innings pitching to then-catcher, now-Cubs manager David Ross.
Both Arrieta and the Cubs will be hoping a reunion here jars something loose.