Chicago Cubs And Jake Arrieta At Odds Over Years, Cubs To Target Shohei Ohtani

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Pitching is the biggest hole that the Chicago Cubs have to fill this MLB offseason. With one-time Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta looking to cash in on MLB free agency, the Chicago Cubs are pondering putting their names in the hat of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.

Chances are good that Jake Arrieta could leave the Cubs via MLB free agency. That is if both the Cubs and Arrieta cannot come to terms on an agreement. Each side has interest in regards to continuing their partnership, but there is a hitch.

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Cubs and Jake Arrieta are having a disagreement about the total years on a potential deal. The Cubs would welcome Arrieta back on a three or four-year agreement.

Arrieta, who conceivably believes this is the last major contract of his MLB career, reportedly wants a deal of at least six seasons (courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times). The Cubs are going to balk at those negotiations with Jake Arrieta and will likely look elsewhere for pitching.

Chicago Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon has all but admitted that Arrieta will be in another uniform next season. Maddon’s candor came while he was discussing the Cubs’ approach to MLB free agency on 670 The Score’s morning drive program the Spiegel and Parkins Show.

Jake Arrieta celebrates a win.
Jake Arrieta’s time with the Chicago Cubs is all but finished, according to Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon.Featured image credit: Patrick SmithGetty Images

With the Chicago Cubs close to conceding in the Jake Arrieta MLB free agency race. However, the Cubs seem inclined to at least inquire about another top MLB free agent. The Cubs may look to land the hottest MLB free agency name.

Japanese two-way player Shohei Ohtani is currently on the radar of several MLB teams, including the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs appear intrigued by Ohtani’s ability to pitch and bat. Joe Maddon talked about how he would use a player (courtesy of CBS Chicago) of Shohei Ohtani’s ilk on the Cubs.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the concept. I see nothing wrong with it. How you utilize it? I think a lot of that would be in progress. You’d have an idea of what you want to do, then you’d figure out more as you do it.”

Kicking the tires on Shohei Ohtani, while allowing Jake Arrieta to walk makes sense financially for the Cubs.

Because Shohei Ohtani is only 23, the most he can make on his first MLB deal is $3 million annually, according to Sports Illustrated. No team can offer Ohtani more than the other. It opens the door wide open for the Chicago Cubs to strike without giving up a $100 million in the interim.

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For the Cubs, a potential Shohei Ohtani signing would also come with a lesser risk than re-signing Jake Arrieta, who will turn 32 years-old before the MLB season starts.

The Cubs would have options with Shohei Ohtani’s slugging and defensive ability. If things do not work out for Ohtani at pitcher, he can convert to hitter in an every day lineup. The Cubs know what they have in Jake Arrieta and could believe that they got his best years.

Just as much as the Cubs may want to have Shohei Ohtani in the fold, other MLB teams do as well. The rumbling about Ohtani wanting to play for a club that will allow him to pitch and hit would give the advantage to an American League club to sign him. Each National League team has to employ the designated hitter several times a season, plus the pitcher hits on days that they pitch, no NL team can be counted out. That helps the Cubs tremendously.

Consider the Chicago Cubs as a team with a strong chance to sign Shohei Ohtani. The Cubs are reportedly willing to end contract negotiations with ace Jake Arrieta if the two sides cannot agree on the total of years. The Cubs will need a fallback option. Going after Ohtani and letting Arrieta is financially sensible for the Chicago Cubs.