Washington Nationals: Jake Arrieta still too expensive


The Washington Nationals would love Jake Arrieta. But, the contract demands remain too high for a team at their resource limit.

Although the Washington Nationals would sign another starting pitcher for the right price, free agent Jake Arrieta remains too expensive to chase.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman—one of the best writers in the business—thinks the Nats odds are two-to-one in landing the best pitcher on the open market. He cites Washington’s close relationship with agent Scott Boras and their history of late player signings. Matt Wieters came to DC last year after spring training started.

Yes, Arrieta in a Nats uniform would send shivers down the spines of the National League. A front three of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Arrieta is as hot as the surface of the sun. But, as with the perfect tan, it comes with a steep price.

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As late as last week, the Philadelphia Phillies were in hot pursuit. They reportedly offered three-years and $82.5 million. Arrieta wants numbers in years and dollars closer to Yu Darvish’s six-year deal with the Chicago Cubs for $126 million.

At 32, in a week, the Nats are not offering a six-year deal. Already over the competitive balance tax, the $20-22 million a season is not the issue. One paying him that much until he is 38 is the sticking point.

The Phillies, flush with cash and millions to spend, are a logical match. With the bumper crop of high-end free agents next year, signing Arrieta now makes them competitive for other players and in the NL East.

So, would Washington intervene to snub a rival? Only if he takes a two- or three-year deal. Remember, the Nats are stuck with Wieters $10.5 million this year and have a certain right fielder with dollar signs imprinted in his eyes. When you add Daniel Murphy to Bryce Harper’s status, the math gets tough.

The resources are not there to ink Arrieta and keep both on Boras’ terms.

Sure, Wieters and Gio Gonzalez come off the payroll in 2019. Provided Washington lets them walk. Likely, but uncertain.

But, Boras and Mike Rizzo work well together. Strasburg is a Boras client. So is Anthony Rendon and Scherzer. If there was acrimony in the negotiations between Washington and Harper, nothing ever leaked in public. Heyman says 55 percent of the Nats payroll belongs to Boras clients.

Nice to see somebody bullish on Washington.

The longer Arrieta remains unsigned, the better Washington’s chances improve. If he is ready for Opening Day, he must sign this week. That arm strength buildup is important and he will already miss one spring start.

Next: The Nats Robles dilemma

Unless the offer is two years with an opt-out, the Nats must swallow hard and pass.