Cubs Arrieta Trade Bait? More Likely a Piece Moving Forward

Cubs Arrieta Trade Bait? More Likely a Piece Moving Forward

The Tribune's Fred Mitchell casually threw out the notion that starter Jake Arrieta was now taking his turn as current Cubs trade bait.  Complete with a poll on whether the Cubs should deal Arrieta.

That headline, however, more likely served as a case of severe click bait. Am I completely ruling out the Cubs could entertain dealing their current top pitcher? No; you can never really do that without being somewhat foolish. However, I am told by multiple sources that the Cubs are not shopping Arietta, nor do they intend on moving him in the foreseeable future.

While some still see ace potential in Arrieta, I'm not completely sold on that possibility just yet. Arrieta still needs to show he can shoulder more innings before anchoring an entire rotation. I do, however, firmly see Arrieta as a big part of the program for this thing going forward.

As for Mitchell's speculation, it seems to be just putting together some lazy and convenient logic. Yes, the Cubs have moved their previous aces in Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija in consecutive seasons. Yet, both were offered extensions beforehand, and neither was under the kind of club control that Arrieta is.

The Cubs tried multiple times to lock up Samardzija before moving him for one hell of a prospect in Addison Russell. The Cubs front office is not in the business of selling the entire farm any longer.

As I've mentioned previously, look for the Cubs to start adding impact arms soon, not subtracting them.

Arrieta showed some real signs of maturity by battling back from a tough beginning to his start yesterday, by bouncing back and righting the ship.  Sahadev Sharma had some key quotes from the Cubs starter and his skipper.

"I came out kind of flat in the first," Arrieta said. "[I] really struggled with command of just about everything today. Didn't really have a pitch I could go to, necessarily, in some spots to induce contact or kind of make things a little less difficult on myself. [My] pitch count got up [and] it was just pretty much a battle, start to finish, " said Arrieta.

"That performance was probably indicative of how much he's grown," Renteria said. "What if that was a couple years ago, when maybe he was struggling a little bit and wasn't able to grind through and pitch through six innings with not his best command of stuff? Today he did. I thought he worked really well."

Still, some, like our own Ryan Davis, see limitations when it comes to Arrieta's ceiling.

Even if Arrieta ends up being Rich Harden 2.0, I think the Cubs would willingly take that, given what a dynamic talent Harden was when healthy. Though one scout I spoke with likes Arrieta's stuff even better. Adding that the aforementioned Garza makes a better comp, especially in regards to possible progression.

Either way, I would think of Arrieta in terms of the present and future, rather than former Cubs.


Thanks for reading; if you enjoyed it, please share with others.  And if you'd like to be updated on my future posts, and those from the rest of the Cubs Insider team, you can subscribe below.

Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

And be sure to like Cubs Insider on Facebook. You can also submit to reddit

Filed under: Uncategorized


Leave a comment
  • For the record, my 140 character limit confined my view. I see Harden in that Arrieta often struggles making it late into games because he builds high pitch counts early. Also, there is a belief by some that throwing a cutter as a fastball replacement rather than a secondary or tertiary pitch causes arm fatigue or even injury, taking MHP off other pitches like the fastball and possibly leading to wildness.

    The Cubs currently have two guys who throw the cutter a ton; Arrieta and Travis Wood. Wood throws a ton of cutters, and his velocity is down and walks are up.

    There isn't enough information on the topic yet to know whether throwing his cutter as a main pitch is the reason, but it's enough to cause concern over Arrieta (who already has dealt with shoulder fatigue) who threw his cutter sparingly in his first few starts, but recently has been throwing about 40-45% cutters.

  • In reply to Ryan Davis:

    I do not think Harden is off base at all. I think its a fair point and likely keeps Arrieta from being an ace. I just used tweet to play off that point. Good thought.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Also, I loved Rich Harden. Shoulder issues and endurance kept him from being an ace. I don't think it's as extreme with Arrieta, but for now I view him as a good 2 or great 3 that'll confound batters for 6 innings. Just not a guy who can go out and toss 8 or 9 innings for you.

  • In reply to Ryan Davis:

    I would be thrilled if Arrieta turns into Harden 2.0, if Harden 2.0 resulted in less injuries. Harden's stuff was unhittable at times, but he just was consistently rehabbing.

  • On "lazy and convenient logic" maybe it would help if Theo said something like "we've torn this down as far as we go, and while I can't rule anything out, we're building from here." But so long as players are considered inventory, and there's only 4 days to the deadline, you'll get this.

    Again, I don't know if Boston is still living Theo logic, but they are tearing it down again.

  • In reply to jack:

    With Arrieta under control for several more seasons, and the fact that the Cubs tried to lock up Samardzija before dealing him, it is kind of lazy logic. It's never been as cut and dry as "this guy is performing, so he'll be traded." Performance is a part of it, but fit in the long term is much bigger. Garza was a free agent and has rejected an extension. Samardzija had rejected a VERY fair offer and was at the peak of his value.

    To compare Samardzija to Arrieta, just pretend Samardzija had 3 more seasons before free agency instead of just one. If he did, do you think they'd have traded him? Doubtful.

  • In reply to Ryan Davis:

    If Shark had 3 more seasons before FA, his value may of been considerably higher. And a team may have, not likely but may have, been willing to trade the Cubs even more. So yes, I think the possibility is more than "doubtful."

    Most of us operate without knowing how the team really feels about a player in regards to ceiling & regression. I think their belief on that is of great importance....right up their with cost-control.

  • I would not be surprise if Theo trades T Wood sometime before the dead is why I think why it could happen....

    - lack of good affordable pitching on the market......most of the good pitchers are either untradeable due to salary, their team are in the race, or they will soon to be free agents.....

    - Wood has value even though having a bad season.......San Fran gave two pitching prospects for Peavy........Theo could get four guys for Wood......

    - Theo likes to "shock" a team to motivate them......did it with Nomar.......

    - Wood 2013 season might have been a fluke.......what if 2015 is worst then 2014 for Wood ?

    - Playoff teams are desperate for pitching......especially in the AL East.......everyone except Red Sox is in the race.......Theo still can pry some of those prospects away from the Blue Jays or Orioles after all.....

    - Cubs not going anywhere in 2015......and please, do not insult us that the Cubs will sigh Shields, Masterson and Schezer for 2015........those guys are heading to better teams next takes two to tango, and players who are over 30, want to be on a playoff team as their career ends....

    - Wood has control years......which teams like.....three more years of it.......and no doubt Wood will demand a very large contract when that time comes.......more then what Shark will be getting......if Theo did not sign Shark....he will not sign Wood.......

    So lets really start building this Cubs pitching staff with a Wood trade for pitching prospects who can the Cubs system Theo's control......and D Johnson guidance in the minor league system......

    Some will say, who will start for the Cubs next season?.......we have EJax, Hendricks, Beeler, Grimm can turn into a starter, Wada, Rusin & Strailey....and any cheap Free Agent pitcher Theo can sign and flip might not be pretty, it would give the Cubs another high Draft pick in 2016.........when the 2016 season comes around, the Cubs should go all out on getting top notch pitching.....Bryant, Soler, Baez will have that first year under their belt by 2016, the pitching prospects from a Wood trade will be ready, and maybe P Johnson from our side......get two top notch free agents to join Hendricks, P Johnson and other pitching prospects, you have a staff....and if our 2015 Draft pick is a starting pitcher, he might be ready to join mid thru 2016........and if Addison Russell is the real thing, a Castro or a Baez trade would bring in top notch pitchers.

    You might not like what I say....but you know I am right.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    So, I'm confused. Shields, Scherzer, and Masterson won't sign with the Cubs this offseason cause the Cubs "aren't going anywhere," but in 2016 "get two top notch free agents" is your plan? Seems contradictory.

  • In reply to Ryan Davis:

    Not at all.....2015 will be the first full year with Bryant, Soler, Baez in the line up......Scherzer will be way over priced, Shields is good, but not a great pitcher......Masterson lost speed on his fastball, and I think is over-rated..........we are in position of not competing in 2015 .....but by 2016, we have a chance for a Wild Card spot.....if anyone thinks this team can compete in 2015, need to get their head examine.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    So, your assessment is that those guys want to be on a contender as their career ends. Given the ages of the free agent pitchers on the market this winter, and your own assertion that the Cubs can be contenders just one year later, doesn't that (plus a ton of money to spend) make them an attractive destination?

  • In reply to Ryan Davis:

    Reasons why the Cubs cannot attract Major Free Agent no specific order....

    - Theo's not offering NTC contracts.....
    - Cubs just plain suck right now...
    - Who wants to play for a last place team that lost 90 plus games in a row for four seasons....only pitchers with TJ issues or on their last leg.
    - Small cramp clubhouse......
    - Lack of perks in the clubhouse.....(BTW, when will this stadium renovation start?)
    - Weather is better in California.....
    - Teams are better in California...
    - Money is better on the East coast...
    - Teams are better on the East coast
    - Lack of hitting power....(might soon change by 2016)
    - Ricketts is Cheap......(remember how the Cubs were going to out bid everyone on Tanaka!)
    - 2015 is another losing season......I like to hope 2016 can be exciting, but if we have no pitching....someone will be taking the blame......who do you think will be fired first....Theo or Renteria by the end of 2016 if this team is still bad?.......

    If the Cubs want to build this pitching staff, it will be thru trades, farm system and draft picks....we be lucky if we can hook one major FA pitcher after 2015 season.......

    Now Ryan, who do you really see the Cubs can practical...not wishful.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Practically? They should have a bunch of money to spend. So they have the ability to sign anyone that wants to take their money. If they are the top bidder, I don't rule out any pitcher. My wish list is a totally different story, though.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Seems more like it isn't that you think they wouldn't want to play for the Cubs, but that you don't want them to.

    Those pitchers can still use their brains and recognize that though 2015 may be rough, 2016 should be much better. Add that with players will generally play for you if you pay them enough....

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    It takes two to tango......but if I was a pitcher and compared a California team with the Cubs, I am moving out West.......

    if we pay them enough......well, we heard all winter how the Cubs were going to out bid everyone for Tanaka.......and the Cubs did not........

    if Pitchers had brains, they would all have ERA's under 2.00......

    lets say the Cubs are at the bottom again in 2015.....could happen because of this division and we just plain suck.....that alone will keep major FA pitchers away........

    Free Agents would hope on the Bandwagon when a team becomes good........our Cubs cannot even reach 500......we barely above 400.

    of the three pitchers (Shileds, Masterson & Scherzer)...I would try to sign Shields......but don't expect it to happen.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    "Hop on the Bandwagon"....sp check correction

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    First, thanks for reading and commenting.

    Just as a point of grammar clarification, if you're going to use ellipses, you can just stick to the standard ... format. I enjoy reading the comments on here, but it gets really hard on the eyes to see several series of dots out there like some weird Morse code.

    While I find your take on the Cubs to be somewhat devoid of hope, healthy skepticism is certainly valid and welcomed, so providing a different POV is nice.

    That said, I have a few points of argument. If weather was such a big point of contention, San Diego would be flooded with free agents every year. Perfect weather nearly year-round there. But the thing about Cali in general is that the overall cost of living, not to mention the exorbitant tax rate, means that you have to make a lot more out there than in the Midwest. New York ain't cheap either, if you hadn't noticed.

    While there aren't too many guys left who want to take on a challenge, David Price himself acknowledged that winning a title in Chicago would be "the coolest." If you're talking about guys who have already won, the allure of doing so again on what would be the grandest stage in baseball history could be quite strong. You can't simply point to weather, money, recent past performance, etc to explain why the Cubs WON'T get FA's without giving credence to the other sides of those arguments.

    The Cubs have a bright future, money to spend, an amazing city (and since baseball is played primarily in the summer, weather is hardly an issue), and the opportunity for a player to become legendary. I think smart players and agents will be looking hard at Chicago this offseason and beyond.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    How many teams in California ? There are five teams, and four of the five are heading towards the Playoffs this year. More later on San Diego.

    As for state taxes, Illinois ranks up there with California and New York, as well with living expenses.. So that argument failed. We are talking about Millionaires who are going to make more millions. But if you want, I can provide both state tax rates to you.

    As for the climate, I take West Coast weather over Chicago weather any day. Driving along Pacific Coast Highway is better then driving on Lake Shore Drive or on the Dan Ryan. Mountains, hill sides and ocean views beats looking at low cost housing units.

    Morse code has both dots and dashes. Not just dots.

    Back to San Diego, they were in the World Series how many times since 1984? And how many times were the Cubs in the World Series in that same span? Want to talk about the Florida Marlins and their warm weather?

    Sure Price said it would be cool to win a championship here. Garza & Shark both said the same thing, but they refused the Cubs contract offer. So they were not devoted to help bring a championship.

    Lets hope the Cubs have a bright future. I have been a Cubs fan for over 50 years, and I heard it all from various GM's & owners about how the Cubs will be great. So I am pass hearing the B.S. from the Cubs FO. I want to see results. This process is different from past Cubs rebuilds, but we are in year three with Theo's plan. Year four does not look any better due to lack of pitching and the weak pitching in free agency.

    And finally, who wants to play for Rick Renteria !

    And you never mention about the Cubs lack of facilities.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm looking at a chart that shows IL with a flat 5% state income tax rate. I don't live there, haven't filed there, just pulling from a sheet online. NY looks like 8.82% at the high end and Cali is 12.3%. I'm no math major, but it appears that both of those are quite a bit higher. But hey, what's an extra 250% in state income taxes to a millionaire?

    In terms of CoL, the calculator I used only goes up to a baseline of $500K, but that's going to put you in nearly the highest tax bracket anyway (CA's begins at 508K, so this is actually skewed against me). Someone making half a million in Chicago would have to make $561K in San Diego, $562 in LA, $697 in San Fran, $587 in Oakland, and $611 in the OC. That's anywhere from a 12-38% increase in CoL, not small change for someone pulling in $10MM.

    Oh, almost forgot about NY. To maintain your $500K Chicago lifestyle in Manhattan, you'd need to pull down $950K; or you could slum it in Queens for $654K. Then there's the option of joining the bridge-and-tunnel crowd in Jersey for the $557K range. So there we have a range of 11-90% increases in CoL.

    The point of my earlier exercise, however, was not to offer a point-by-point rebuttal to your treatise, but rather to lay out that even circumstances that appear adverse can be made less so with closer inspection.

    Morse Code may indeed have both dots and dashes, but sarcasm has neither. Random capitalization and spelling errors aside, you do present very cogent points, which is nice. But it also appears that you have no interest in entertaining a scenario in which the Cubs could come out on top. While I might be a Pollyanna, I also acknowledge that the wheels could fall off this thing; I'm willing to listen to most well-articulated criticism.

    When that criticism, however, comes with a constant negative slant, it's hard to take seriously. When things go from debate to ingrained narrative, I tend to tune out. Again, I'm glad you're reading and actively involved here though.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Wood trade wouldn't shock me at all. However, his value is not at a peak to say the least.

  • Hmm...obviously the idea is that we should be obtaining cost-controlled TOR pitchers. I suppose the question is whether Arrieta is in fact a TOR pitcher--a question that has already been used to scrutinize both Garza and Shark. Is Arrieta, right now, void of danger of future regression, better than Garza or Shark? Hmm.

    The question is whether the front office would be gambling on trading a pitcher turning the corner or on selling high for a pitcher who has hit his ceiling and is probably as consistent as he'll ever be.

    The other question is if a team is willing to crack in the next four days and give up a lot of a talented, cost-controlled, but tough to project pitcher (feels like deja vu all over again....).

    Two and a half days ago, Tom wrote this:

    "I was also told that the Blue Jays are now regretting not making a deal for either Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel previously. A source says Toronto is currently finding the price for what's left out on the pitching market to be absurd, especially considering the value.

    In hindsight, the Jays would have taken the opportunity to deal for a front-line starter like Samardzija, even though that meant meeting the Cubs' steep asking price."

    Would Toronto not have a lot of interest in Arrieta? I'm sure they would have trusted Shark more, but even Cubs fans couldn't agree on what we had with Shark. Again, is this sounding familiar?

    So...if the Bluejays offered the Cubs--for Arrieta--what the Cubs asked for for just Shark, would you take the deal? I'm glad I don't have to really make the decisions or live with the ramifications.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    T Wood / EJax / Villanueva/ Olt for Stroman /Sanchez / Norris / Nolin / Pompey.

    A trade like that would be okay for us Cubs fans.

  • As I've said elsewhere, it's hard to plan around Arrieta for the future. He's 28, has never thrown 180 innings in a season (let alone the 220-240 needed of a playoff starter), with some questions about shoulder health. I love the improvements this year with his pitch efficiency and pitching more to contact. But his age means he'll be in his 30s once the Cubs are ready to make their first realistic playoff run. This means he's probably a guy who has more value to contending teams right now than he will for us in 2 to 3 years. Thus if I'm Theo/Jed I consider trading him if the return package includes a top-of-the-rotation prospect like a Sanchez or Norris from Toronto. Is this unlikely? Maybe. maybe not. But that's what you listen for.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Yeah, I'd listen to that.

  • Arreita, Ruggiano, Lake to the M's for: Walker, Paxton, Ackley, and Peterson?

  • In reply to Kicker of Elves:

    why not throw in Barney for Cano too?? But seriously, would the M's even listen on JUST Walker for those three??

  • In reply to Kicker of Elves:

    Seattle answer to that...."click"

  • Tom, what would TOR have to do to get your interest ? Sanchez straight up? The Harden comp makes sense for several scary seasons. As good as Arietta has been & looked, that shoulder issue, limited track record, and stamina questions all should give us some pause. It
    would be tough from a PR standpoint but Epstoyer doesn't seem to care about that.

Leave a comment