Jake Arrieta is at the top of the free agent charts for starting pitching but the New York Yankees would do well to stray away from signing him.
Offseason for the New York Yankees historically means throwing around massive amounts of money on big-name free agents. This offseason, they would do well to avoid that.
Free agent names for starting pitchers have been tossed around, including Alex Cobb, Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn. One more has been added as a person of interest for the Yankees’ rotation: former Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta.
On the surface, that big name stands out above the rest. With Darvish’s recent stumble in the postseason, his value seemed to have diminish for New York. However, Arrieta is a World Series champion who had a 2-0 record in the series in 2016.
He’s playoff-tested, he played on the biggest stage for a team that had all eyes on them. The Chicago Cubs pitcher seems to be the perfect fit to handle the spotlight of the Bronx.
But is he really? His name sounds good but he has only gone downhill since his stellar 2015 season.
During his 2015 Cy Young season, Arrieta went 22-6 with a stellar 1.77 ERA in the regular season. He was workhorse, putting in a career-high 229 innings. For the next two seasons, he didn’t put up quite as impressive numbers.
While Arrieta pitched his second no-hitter of his career in 2016 and put up an 18-8 record, he pitched fewer than 200 innings. Maybe that has to do with Joe Madden’s newfound love for calling on the bullpen in the fifth inning. However, Arrieta also gave up 72 runs in fewer innings (he gave up 52 in 2015).
2016 was even less impressive. Arrieta had a winning record at 14-10 but he threw 168.1 innings and gave up even more runs (82).
Let’s also look at the strikeouts. While that doesn’t necessarily define how talented a pitcher is, it does mean something in Arrieta’s case. Arrieta was ranked sixth in the major leagues with 236 strikeouts in 2015. The next two seasons he was ranked 15th (190) and 36th (163) respectively.
He was 29 years old during the 2015 season. As the 2018 campaign begins, he’ll be just turning 32. So why would the Yankees chase after a pitcher who is on the wrong side of 30 and has shown significant decline in the past few seasons?
Not only that but Arrieta would likely be looking for a pretty hefty contract. And if the Yankees did sign Arrieta, with the amount they would pay for him, they would have to put him in the rotation. That means cutting out some of the young pitchers in the minors who have yet to get a chance to try out for a starting spot.
CC Sabathia is definitely on the wrong side of 30 but he has proved himself. Like wine and cheese, Sabathia only seems to get better with age for the Yankees. Arrieta has already shown that he can’t keep up those stellar numbers.
He does have the postseason experience, which is likely drawing the attention of the Yankees front office. He is 5-3 in three years with a 3.08 ERA. While not bad, the regular season stats are just as, if not more, important.
The Yankees have Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino slated to remain in the rotation. They’ve been talking to CC Sabathia about a potential return (and more podcasts with Ryan Ruocco, hopefully). Jordan Montgomery had a promising rookie season. Chad Green will be competing for a spot in spring training. And then the Yankees have a plethora of starting pitchers, chomping at the bit to get their change to fight for a spot in the rotation.
The argument comes down to whether or not the Yankees want to rely on their farm system or bring in another big name. But looking at the stats, bringing in Jake Arrieta probably wouldn’t suit the Yankees well.
Well, at least he’ll get to keep his beard for whatever team he ends up playing for.