Jake Arrieta Signs With Chicago Cubs

Jake Arrieta
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Jake Arrieta signed with the Chicago Cubs for the 2021 season Friday night. He returns to the franchise where he saw his best years despite multiple seasons of decline with the Philadelphia Phillies. The deal is for one season, and it pays Arrieta $6.5 million.

He enters his age-35 season coming off of one of his worst seasons even when you account for the shortened 2020 campaign. He went 4-4 with a 5.08 ERA and 1.511 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported the deal.

Jake Arrieta Back To the Cubs

The 34-year-old Arrieta fell off in the past three seasons with the Phillies. He threw 352 2/3 innings for the NL East franchise and posted a 4.36 ERA with 280 strikeouts. Those aren’t terrible numbers, but they are far behind what the former fifth-round pick from 2007 did in his first stint with the Cubs. That stretch saw Arrieta post a 2.73 ERA and 763 strikeouts in 803 innings. It’s hard to be quite that dominant going into the latter stages of a career, but few might have expected such a severe drop in production. It was especially difficult for Phillies fans to to enjoy given that Arrieta made $75 million.

It’s hard to know what to expect from Arrieta at this point. His groundball rate remained a respectable 51.8% in 2020, but his average fastball velocity fell from 56.1% in 2019 to just 92.1% in 2020. The percentage of balls hit hard fell from 38.3% to 31.9%, but the medium percentage jumped from 45.3% to 51.1% percent. It all adds up to a very curious profile for the veteran righty. A full spring training and a more normal season will be vital.

Where Arrieta Fits

Arrieta has the pedigree of a starter, but a severe lack of recent results. He probably starts 2021 at the back of the rotation given his diminishing velocity and production. However, he is a competitive former Cy-Young-Award winner and will be motivated to end his career strong. It’s unlikely, but not impossible for the sinker/slider veteran to reinvent himself. A late resurrection could put him within reach for 150 career wins and 2000 strikeouts. Both are possible with the right situation and adjustments.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images