NOTE: The headline and photo of this article have been updated after the reported signing of Wade Davis with the Rockies Friday morning.
Thursday, I posted a list of former Cubs who are free agents and whether I thought the Cubs should take a flyer on any of them to return in 2018. Short answer: Some, maybe, to minor-league deals. Of all the 2017 Cubs who are free agents, only Hector Rondon (Astros) and Leonys Martin (Tigers) have signed with anyone for 2018.
I specifically left Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis out of that article because I thought they deserved fuller treatment, and so, here it is.
The Cubs are still searching for a starting pitcher. They seem to have turned their attention to Yu Darvish, and I think they might be better off with Darvish than Arrieta going forward.
But if Darvish chooses a different team, the Cubs could revisit Arrieta.
Bruce Levine recently summed up what’s been going on with Jake:
Talks with agent Scott Boras, who represents Arrieta, have been hushed to this point. Epstein indicated during the Winter Meetings earlier in December that he would get to talking with Boras, but nothing regarding those conversations has been made public since then. The Cubs are well aware of what Arrieta is expecting in the way of an offer, sources said. Six years and $160 million was said to be the beginning point in negotiations in November, sources said.
Both Darvish and Arrieta want five-year deals or longer.
I think you can probably safely say that 6/160 is off the table for the Cubs, and it well might be off the table for any team. The market, as you know, has been just about as cold as Chicago’s weather this week. But the longer Jake goes without signing, there will likely be pressure on him to lower his asking price so that he’ll be ready to go to spring training with someone. In fact, MLB Trade Rumors ran a poll asking whether some of the top free agents would have to take a “pillow” contract (one year) and then revisit free agency next offseason. The majority voted “yes.”
Now, that’s just an internet poll and doesn’t likely reflect the actual market. But it does, to me at least, indicate that the Cubs (or other teams) waiting out Jake could get him to lower his asking price, as the MLBTR article notes:
If they can’t get the guarantees they’re seeking now, it’s far more likely that these players would accept a smaller (but still hefty) multi-year guarantee rather than take a one-year deal and risk losing out on tens of millions of dollars. But the agents of these players have a greater agenda, and if the best offers their clients are getting would set a poor precedent for future contracts, it’s conceivable that the agents could become proponents of pillow contracts for their clients.
This is a long way of saying that it still might be possible for the Cubs to sign Arrieta to a four-year deal, although the AAV asking price on such a contract is likely to be north of $25 million, probably more than the Cubs want to spend.
Searching for recent news about Wade Davis turns up... almost nothing. Earlier this week USA Today posted this article noting the seven top relievers still available, but linked Davis to no one.
Davis was rumored to want a four-year deal, which might be too much given the fact that the Cubs have already committed two years to Brandon Morrow, who is likely going to close in 2018 unless Davis returns.
Could the Cubs sell Davis on a three-year deal? I might consider that if the AAV is decent, and if it would leave enough to sign Darvish. But that doesn’t seem likely.
The bottom line here, I think, is that both these pitchers will be in uniforms other than those of the Cubs for 2018. But the door seems open, for now, even if only a tiny bit.