I’ll never forget December 1st, 2015. I got a notification on my phone, David Price had agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox. This didn’t strike me as surprising. I had heard the Cardinals were interested in him, but I just assumed I was dreaming like I do when there are rumors about most superstars. However, the memorable part of the day came when the details emerged of how close the Cardinals actually came to singing Price.
There was the story that Price went to a golfing event thinking he was going to be a Cardinal, and then agreeing with Boston before it was over. St. Louis offered him the biggest contract in Cardinals history. They wanted him badly. You could just hear the disappointment in John Mozeliak’s voice as he talked about it. That would have been such a huge move. Disappointing is the only way to describe it.
I believe the Cardinals are still looking for another ace to pair with Carlos Martinez. It looked like they might have that guy with Alex Reyes, but after losing him to Tommy John surgery he just can’t be counted on to meet those kinds of expectations. He is not likely to be an impact arm in the rotation for at least two more seasons. If they want to add another ace, they must look outside the organization. When you look at the 2017-18 free agent class, there’s a familiar and obvious solution:
At this point Cardinals fans know all too well what Arrieta is about. He stands tall on the mound looking jacked as can be while giving a death glare straight into your soul. He’s exceptionally intimidating with the pitching chops to back it up. And I haven’t even mentioned the full-grown man beard.
The run he had in the second half of 2015, leading to a Cy Young award, was unreal. He had a 0.75 ERA in 107.1 innings pitched. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen dominance like that. His last loss of the 2015 season came on July 25th, and he only lost that because Cole Hamels threw a no-hitter. That’s insane.
Arrieta took a step back in 2016, but that had to be expected. Nobody could keep up what he did in 2015. He was still a very good pitcher though. He had a 3.10 ERA in 197.1 innings. There’s more to it, but I’ll take his 2016 stat line as a complement to Carlos Martinez in a heartbeat. Plus, I believe that his 2016 numbers are his floor, there’s plenty of room for him to be a whole lot better than that.
Arrieta is not afraid to test free agency
He has been quoted plenty of times saying that he wants to be paid what he deserves. It seems like he would like to stay with the Cubs, but only on his terms. This might be his only shot at a huge payday, so it’s hard to blame him for taking that stance.
In a fairly recent article he was quoted saying that it will be nice “to be able to decide for once where you want to go.” So I don’t believe that he is actively looking to leave the Cubs, but I do think that all other teams have an equal shot at getting him.
The Cardinals have the money to sign him
This one is fairly obvious. If the Cardinals felt they could dish out the money for Price then they can surely afford Arrieta. With the new TV deal in place in the coming years they will be able to really increase their payroll. With most of their team already in place I would expect any significant increases in payroll to come from adding high-end players. Arrieta fits the bill.
Arrieta’s good friend
Another aspect to consider is that Arrieta and Matt Carpenter are very good friends. He was even a groomsman in Carpenter’s wedding. Now I don’t at all believe that Arrieta will sign here just because his friend plays here. The Cardinals will absolutely have to match the highest offer, if not top it. But knowing somebody that seems to love playing in St. Louis can only be a positive and potentially be a big help in negotiations.
At the end of the day, it sucks writing something like this about a Chicago Cub. But the reality is that they have some great players (hence, the trophy). And if the Cardinals have the opportunity to get one of their great players in a deal that makes sense for them, then I will, without a doubt, be a huge advocate for it.
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