Jake Arrieta Feels Like A Jeff Wilpon Move
Before the sale of the New York Mets to Steve Cohen, you could almost be assured the team would have had heavy interest in Jake Arrieta. Really, this was a play out of their playbook. It was a big name, and they could tout adding a Cy Young winner to the rotation.
We saw it just last offseason. They let Zack Wheeler go to the Philadelphia Phillies unchallenged and chastised him as having two half seasons. They would then promote adding former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and former NLCS MVP Michael Wacha. It didn’t matter neither pitcher was still in that form, they were names the Mets could tout, and so they did.
Looking at Arrieta, it is hard to argue he is anything more than just a name at this point in his career. Like with Porcello and Wacha, he is far removed from the form he once was.
Since signing with the Phillies, Arrieta has seen his ERA rise in each of the last three seasons while seeing his ERA+ drop to a 90. His WHIP has gotten successively worse while seeing his H/9 and K/BB worsen each season. During his time in Philadelphia, he had a 4.36 ERA, 99 ERA+, and a 4.55 FIP. Based upon what we’ve seen of the soon to be 35 year old pitcher, that is only going to get worse.
Over at Baseball Savant, we see Arrieta has ceased getting swing and misses, and the contact against him has gotten increasingly harder. Batters are having an easier time squaring him up, and his velocity is down. When he was throwing 95 MPH with the Chicago Cubs, he was a true ace. At 92, he’s been a fifth starter on the verge of being a pitcher who may be forced into retirement.
Really, when you look at Arrieta, you have to wonder why the Mets would have interest. Arrieta hasn’t been all that good the past two seasons, and he has been trending downward since that Cy Young season in 2015. Of course, with all of these reasons, you could also understand the Mets may pursue him because they feel like they could build on something.
On that note, Arrieta’ GB/FB rate was back to the levels it was when he won the Cy Young in 2015. He was also unlucky last year with a .333 BABIP. Certainly, if you are the Mets, you can look at the addition of Francisco Lindor and their attempts to build an infield in 2021, and you could certainly talk yourself into it working.
If nothing else, it is a plan which would allow David Peterson to begin the year in Triple-A Syracuse. It allows the team to have to only look to rely on one of Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto in the rotation. It is a bridge to when Noah Syndergaard is ready. Based on the likely commitment required to sign him, it is entirely possible it will be easy to cut bait with him should he falter.
On those grounds, you can certainly understand the Mets line of thinking. That said, when there are better and higher upside options available like James Paxton, you do wonder why the Mets would push for Arrieta right now. If the team was still operated by Jeff Wilpon, you would understand, and you could see this coming a mile away.
However, now, this move at this time seems odd. Perhaps, the Mets won’t go this route until the rest of the free agent starting pitching market shakes out. Maybe, they know something we don’t. At this point, it is anyone’s guess. We can only hope they know better and their hedging their bets here will pay off in a way it typically didn’t under Jeff Wilpon.