After a long offseason of saying goodbye to multiple fan favorites in free agency, the Cubs have finally agreed to a reunion with one familiar face. Jake Arrieta will reportedly be returning to the organization after a three-year stint with the Philadelphia Phillies. Initial reports believe the deal will be around $6 million.

Cubs Continue to Make Moves as Spring Training Approaches

The reported Arrieta signing will be the latest in a busy week for the Cubs’ front office. Said span has seen the Cubs add other interesting pieces such as fellow Starting Pitcher, Trevor Williams, and slugger, Joc Pederson.

While the Cubs have still steered clear of any major signings, the early offseason days of crying poor have subsided ever so slightly. With the NL Central lacking any serious postseason contenders, GM Jed Hoyer has been getting creative with his ability to shape the roster as the season nears. The approach is simple, one-year deals for players with great buy-low potential who may rebound and provide more value than the price of their contract. Arrieta in particular is coming off of one of the worst seasons in his career. His 5.08 era across 9 starts last season is the worst ERA since his days in Baltimore nearly a decade ago.

While his production slipped each year in Philadelphia, Jake was the most sought after pitcher on the market along with former Cub, Yu Darvish, just 3 years ago. And let us not forget that Yu Darvish’s free-agent deal with the Cubs looked terrible for about a year and a half before he regained form as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Often times a change of scenery can make or break a player’s career trajectory. It’s possible Philadelphia was simply not a good match for the ex-Cy Young award winner.

What it Means for the Cubs Outlook

Expectations should not be sky-high for Arrieta as he will have much to prove, but if he can even slightly return to his previous form with the Cubs this deal will be a major win. Four years ago he was still the Ace of the Cubs pitching staff. From 2013-2017 he posted a 68-31 record with a 2.73 ERA. The pressure to lead the staff and shut down lineups every 5 days will not be weighing on him this time around. The hope is that familiarity with Wrigley Field and Willson Contreras will make him comfortable enough to regain some of his previous swagger and possibly become one of the best bargains in free agency. It is also important to note that manager David Ross has experience working with Arrieta.

Current Cubs Rotation Projection:

  1. Kyle Hendricks
  2. Zach Davies
  3. Alec Mills
  4. Jake Arrieta
  5. Trevor Williams

The Cubs rotation is still not anywhere near as great as you would like a rotation tasked with shutting down Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Christian Yelich on a regular basis to be, but it is improving. Adding a former Cy Young Winner near the end of your rotation is something nearly every team in the league would like to take a flier on.

Sentimental Aspect of Arrieta Returning

Whether this signing ends up being a wonderful reunion or a quick disappointment, this is a good move for Cubs fans. Letting Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber walk away over rather small amounts of money did not sit well with Cubs faithful. The front office has without a doubt created a significant rift with the fanbase in recent months. Seeing the willingness to bring back one of the most beloved players in Cubbie Blue is a good effort to potentially give fans something to cheer for again. Jake Arrieta starts were must-watch TV in Chicago during his go around with the Cubs. When fans are allowed back in the stadium, maybe we can hope for a Kerry Wood or Greg Maddux type return for Jake Arrieta. At the very least, this should be fun.