Lost in all the excitement of the Yu Darvish signing is the fact that Jake Arrieta will almost certainly be pitching for another team this season. Acquired from the Orioles on July 2, 2013 along with Pedro Strop for Scott Feldman and Steve Cleavenger, Arrieta deserves thanks and respect for leading the Cubs to three straight league championship series and the team’s first World Series victory since 1908. The now former ace leaves Chicago with a 68-31 career record that includes a Cy Young Award, two no-hitters and an historic second-half run in 2015.
From the 2015 All-Star break through the end of the season, Arrieta allowed just nine earned runs in 107 1/3 innings, including his August 30 no-hitter against the Dodgers in which the Cubs’ pitcher walked just one batter against 12 strikeouts. His dominant 2015 season ended with a 22-6 record, 236 strikeouts, an ERA+ of 215, a WAR of 8.7 and the NL Cy Young award.
As starting pitcher in the 2015 Wild Card game, Arrieta destroyed the Pirates with a complete-game shutout in which he struck out 11 while allowing just five hits and no walks in the win-or-go-home game.
After pitching a 16-0 no-hitter against the Reds in his fourth start of the 2016 season, Arrieta completed an 11-game run in which he was 10-0, including eight starts in which he gave up zero runs. In fact, it was almost a full year between losses for the right-hander when the Diamondbacks finally beat him 3-2 on June 5, a game in which Arrieta struck out 12 batters in 5 innings of work.
It’s safe to say that the last three years would not have been possible without that 2013 trade between the Cubs and Orioles. Now that dance is over. So long Jake, you will be missed and never forgotten.
Cubs News & Notes
The market for Arrieta may be down to the Brewers and Twins, though the Nationals “have emerged as a suitor for some of the remaining free-agent starters on the market, including Arrieta,” per Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com.
Bleacher Report has moved the Cubs up to No. 2 in their offseason power rankings. The Astros remain in the top spot. With the Darvish and Brandon Morrow signings, the Cubs grew significantly stronger while weakening the Dodgers, the team that may block their path to the 2018 World Series.
Las Vegas does not entirely agree. Right now the Cubs have the third-best odds to reach the World Series at 9/2, trailing the Dodgers (5/2) and the Nationals (4/1).
Per FanGraphs’ projected wins above replacement, the Darvish signing puts the Cubs at 50.1 WAR, one of only three teams to pass the 50 mark: the Dodgers are at 50.5 WAR, and last year’s champion, the Astros, are at 52.1 WAR. The Cubs now project to 94 victories for the 2018 season.
Real GM grades the Yu Darvish contract, giving the pitcher a B- and the Cubs an A- for the deal, indicating that “[the signing] means nothing but good things for the Cubs organization, who now have one of MLB’s premier rotations, all without giving up a draft pick or going over the luxury tax.”
Eno Sarris did a deep dive into Darvish’s 2017 performance, showing how tweaks to his delivery and pitch sequencing suggested by the Dodgers repaired what had been a rough start to the season while the starter was still with the Rangers.
While an intriguing theory given the current set of circumstances, the owners would have to be extremely foolish to even consider colluding against the MLBPA. Forbes has the details.
The Cardinals signed RP Bud Norris yesterday. Norris gets a one-year deal for $3 million with incentives. The Cardinals may use Norris in their rotation or as a spot starter and swingman. Norris was 2-6 with a 4.21 ERA in 60 appearances (all but three out of the bullpen) last season and had 19 saves in 25 opportunities.
Infielder Trevor Plouffe agreed to a minor league deal with the Rangers yesterday.
The prevalence of minor league deals this winter may be a symptom of baseball’s changing landscape.
The Blue Jays will retire Roy Halladay’s number on Opening Day.
After not receiving an invitation to attend this year’s spring training camp, outspoken MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage scolded Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
Multiple news outlets are reporting that former White Sox pitcher Esteban Loaiza was arrested in San Diego County on Friday for transporting roughly 44 pounds of heroin and cocaine
Tuesday Walk Up Song
And We Danced by The Hooters. So long, Jake.