The Washington Nationals have been linked to free agent starting pitcher Jake Arrieta for much of the winter. Here’s why they would be wise to avoid him.
Like the rest of the MLB, the Washington Nationals have been pretty quiet all offseason. However, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been rumors swirling around the team.
Due to their exceptional rapport with super-agent Scott Boras, there has been quite a bit of speculation that they will sign one of his many high-profile clients. Although none of these rumors have come to fruition yet, they have been extensively linked to free agent starting pitcher Jake Arrieta.
These rumors could be gaining a little steam, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale predicted that the Nats would sign Arrieta to a five-year contract worth $120 million.
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Although Arrieta has established himself as one of the game’s best starters, the Nats would be wise to avoid him. The soon-to-be 32-year-old comes with several red flags, which are partially responsible for him remaining unsigned so far into the offseason.
For starters, Arrieta will be 32 on Opening Day. This is typically around the age when pitchers begin to decline, so signing him to a long-term deal does not make much sense. He could contribute a couple productive seasons, but he will likely be a liability at the end of the contract.
Arrieta’s recent workload is also cause for concern. With the exception of 2017, he has been among the league leaders in innings pitched in each of the last few seasons. He battled various injuries in 2017, which led to a decreased workload, but he still logged nearly 170 innings.
Due to Arrieta’s tremendous workload, his decline could be more extreme than that of a typical pitcher. Add in the fact that he is already into his thirties, and he could completely fall off the map anytime now.
The Nats have typically been fairly financially savvy, but inking Arrieta to a long-term deal could be a nightmare. If they are interested in signing him, they should limit it to a year or two.
Realistically, the Nats are probably not serious contenders for Arrieta. They have already gone over the luxury tax threshold, and are gearing up to be players in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes next winter. Signing Arrieta would require a much bigger luxury tax payment, along with being detrimental to their pursuit of Harper.
Obviously, you never know when it comes to Boras clients and the Nats. Even with that in mind, it is difficult to see the Nats signing Arrieta. He comes with too many red flags, and it would require the Nats to spend money they aren’t interested in spending.