Perhaps the best option remaining on the free-agent pitching market is Jake Arrieta, the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner.
Nationals among top suitors for Arrieta
The Nationals, Brewers, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers and Orioles are "among the teams continuing to monitor the top available starting pitchers," according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. Arrieta fits the bill.
Per Morosi, rival executives think Washington could jump on the right-hander if his price falls to within their range. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez are all entering contract years, and the Nats are pushing to win their first playoff series since the franchise moved to D.C. The timing makes sense for the club to add a high-profile arm such as Arrieta this year.
Morosi also notes the relationship between general manager Mike Rizzo and Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, as a potential factor that could impact the veteran hurler's landing spot. Six of the Nationals' eight highest-paid players for 2018, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, are Boras clients.
MLB Network insider Jon Heyman listed the Nationals atop Arrieta's possible landing spots when he wrote about the 2015 Cy Young Award winner earlier in the week. Heyman concedes the Nats would have to exceed the luxury tax threshold to sign Arrieta, but the team might be willing to do so with the hope of bringing a championship to Washington.
Heyman slots in the Brewers, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles and Twins -- in that order -- as the next most likely clubs to sign Arrieta. Heyman adds the Cubs were in on him prior to signing Yu Darvish to a 5-year, $126 million deal and the Rangers are going "cost-efficient" this offseason, so there is a small chance "he goes to someone other than that top seven."
The 31-year-old Arrieta could be looking at a similar deal to the one Darvish signed with Chicago. He went 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 128 starts for the Cubs over the past five seasons.
-- This report was first posted on Feb. 25.
Phils, Arrieta far apart on contract length
Phillies owner John Middleton addressed Jake Arrieta and the starting-pitching market on Thursday, saying, "It's hard to characterize it at this point" whether the team will be able to add a starting pitcher before Opening Day.
Arrieta would of course be a huge get for the Phillies, but they might be too far apart in terms of contract length. Sources have told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that the Phillies would be open to a three-year deal for Arrieta, but they are currently unwilling to go to the six or seven years that the right-hander wants.
As far as Philadelphia's negotiations with Arrieta, Middleton said Thursday he hasn't heard from Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, noting that general manager Matt Klentak will be the one who negotiates any potential deal. The team and Boras have had discussions throughout the offseason, but little has changed at this point.
"It's not so remote that you'd say no, there's really no chance," Middleton said. "But I would tell you we're not just looking at free agents. We're talking to teams about trades, because there are players that we would trade for."
Even though the Phillies think they'll be much improved this season, they don't like the idea of committing $100-plus million to a 32-year-old pitcher regardless of Arrieta's talent, according to Zolecki.
"We want to improve the team, we're always trying to improve the team," Middleton said, "but we've got to do it a way that makes sense now and next year. We don't want to sacrifice something significant in the future by making a short-term move." -- This report was first posted on Feb. 22.
Phillies talking with Arrieta
The Phillies, who already made one splash signing this offseason in bringing in first baseman Carlos Santana, might be trying to add another.
Philadelphia and Jake Arrieta "are having dialogue" about a potential deal, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
Heyman notes that Phillies president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and director of player development Joe Jordan "love [Arrieta] from their days in Baltimore together."
Arrieta, 31, went 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts) for the Orioles to begin his career, but since a trade to the Cubs in 2013, he is 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 128 starts. He was named the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2015, when he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in a career-high 33 starts and 229 innings.
The veteran right-hander has been known to be seeking a long-term contract, but according to Heyman, the Phillies "would prefer a shorter term" deal. "So there's a gap," Heyman added.
Arrieta could be seeking an offer close to the six-year, $126 million deal Yu Darvish recently signed with the Cubs. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 20.
Heyman sees Arrieta's best fit to be Brewers
The Brewers have already taken aggressive measures to bolster a roster that last year finished just one game shy of the postseason, yet their most glaring personnel deficiency -- a need for at least one top-of-the-rotation arm -- remains unaddressed. For this, and with the division-rival Cubs' signing Yu Darvish, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman predicts in a post for FanRag Sports that Arrieta's most suitable landing spot is Milwaukee.
:: Free agent buzz ::
The Brewers have already added free agent Jhoulys Chacin to complement the Opening Day rotation with Chase Anderson and Zach Davies. Jimmy Nelson, who enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 before undergoing shoulder surgery, is not expected until some time later in the first half as he returns from injury. Manager Craig Counsell said the club's current plan is to have a group of Brandon Woodruff, Brent Suter, Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra and Aaron Wilkerson compete for the remaining starts. Even with Nelson's return, the current contingent is projected 15th in FanGraphs WAR at the position -- well behind the Cubs and Cardinals, who the Brewers will be chasing in the National League Central.
Couple their needs at the position and owner Mark Attanasio's comments at Fanfest last month indicating that the club had financial flexibility to add to it, and a union with Arrieta appears a strong fit. The Brewers finished with an MLB-low $63 million in payroll in 2017.
"We could sign a big pitcher. If the right situation comes along, we can take advantage of that," Attanasio said.
For all of these reasons, Heyman speculates Arrieta will (eventually) sign with the Brewers. He also notes the Nationals, Phillies, Cardinals and Twins -- each of whom have been linked to Arrieta -- as other potential landing spots, but not to as strong of an extent as Milwaukee. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 15.
Arrieta market may be down to Brewers, Twins
Now that Yu Darvish has agreed to a deal with the Cubs, the free-agent picture for Arrieta is starting to crystallize. The Brewers and Twins, two teams previously linked to Darvish, now appear to be two of the favorites to land Arrieta, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman on Sunday night. The Nationals, Phillies and Cardinals are also possible destinations for Arrieta, according to Heyman.
Per Heyman, the Brewers could be the most logical fit, and Milwaukee has "been in touch" with Arrieta. The Brewers have made some big splashes already this offseason, signing Lorenzo Cain and trading for Christian Yelich, but ace Jimmy Nelson is recovering from right shoulder surgery and their rotation could use a boost, especially if they want to keep pace with the improved Cubs.
The Nationals, meanwhile, are looking to make a deep postseason run, and Arrieta could take an already strong rotation to the next level. General manager Mike Rizzo reportedly loves the idea of adding someone like Arrieta, but Washington is also concerned with remaining below the luxury-tax threshold.
The Phillies are an up-and-coming young team, but they've also already signed Carlos Santana and could look to bolster their pitching staff, too. As Heyman notes, Phillies president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and director of player development Joe Jordan were all Orioles executives when Baltimore drafted Arrieta.
Video: Do Nationals make sense as a destination for Arrieta
According to Heyman, the Twins had appeared to favor Darvish and were focused on him, so an Arrieta-Twins pact might come as a surprise. But they do need pitching with Ervin Santana set to miss time while recovering from right middle finger surgery; the best fit might just be someone like Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb instead of Arrieta.
Looking to get back to the postseason amid a competitive NL Central, St. Louis can afford Arrieta, but improving its bullpen has been a higher priority than its rotation. Addressing that need, the club has reached a deal with free-agent reliever Bud Norris, a source told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal on Monday morning. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 12.