Toronto Blue Jays: The case for and against Jake Arrieta

The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly inquired about Jake Arrieta, but is the 2015 Cy Young winner worth signing?

To some, it may still feel like the 2017 season has only just finished. However, spring training will be here quicker than you can ask (again) “How could the Toronto Blue Jays let Edwin Encarnacion leave?!”

In that respect, the number of rumors will only increase from here on out. Case in point, is the Blue Jays’ apparent interest in Jake Arrieta.

According to TSN, citing a report from the Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo, the Blue Jays have contacted Arrieta’s agent, who happens to be a certain Scott Boras. This leads to the question of if signing the Farmington, Missouri native would be a good move?

As is often the case in professional sports, it comes down to perspective. More specifically in this case, do the potential short-term benefits outweigh any possible long-term issues?

There’s little denying Arrieta is a tremendous pitcher, who would make the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation even more dangerous. (He could join a starting five including Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada.)

After struggling early on in his career, the 2004 31st round draft pick has enjoyed a sterling run of form, since joining the Chicago Cubs midway through the 2013 season. This includes winning the NL Cy Young in 2015, being named an All-Star in 2016 and — most importantly of all — helping the Cubs end their 108-year World Series drought.

As per his pitching repertoire, Arrieta mostly relies on his 92mph sinker. However, he does like to mix in his curveball, slider and changeup.

The 2016 silver slugger is coming off a season where he pitched 168.1 innings in 30 starts and went 14-10. He recorded 163 strikeouts, along with an ERA of 3.53.

However, as much as the two-time no-hitter sounds enticing enough, it is his 2017 campaign which may work against him. While his statistics sound good enough, they actually represented his worst return in four full seasons with the Cubs.

Given that Arrieta will turn 32 before the 2018 season begins, there may be some concern his decreased production will be the start of a gradual decline. In turn, this ties into the second factor which might make the Toronto Blue Jays decide to look elsewhere.

As per TSN, the Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers have also contacted Boras. As such, you can imagine the chase for Arrieta turning into a bidding war, especially as he is one of top free agent pitchers available.

If this happens, how much are the Blue Jays willing to pay for the former Baltimore Oriole, who earned $15.6375 million this past season? You assume he will want (and get) a lucrative, long-term deal, but do Mark Shapiro and company want to be tied down to an investment which could lead to diminishing returns?

Of course, there is always a certain degree of risk in baseball, when deciding whether to commit to someone or not. Regardless, the Toronto Blue Jays have a lot to think about, before making a final decision on Arrieta.

What would you do if you were the Blue Jays? Assuming their interest in Arrieta is genuine, how much would you be prepared to offer, in order to secure his services? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.