Blue Jays in on the early Jake Arrieta discussions?

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta /

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Blue Jays are among the teams that have checked in with Jake Arrieta and his agent this offseason.

As the offseason moves at a snail’s pace, it’s all the more proof that we don’t know what the Blue Jays’ front office is thinking just yet. Many of us have made our predictions, but until the ball gets rolling it’s really hard to tell what direction the club may go in.

One direction I didn’t expect came across the rumour mill on Saturday night, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Blue Jays are among the teams that have checked in on free agent right-hander, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta is coming off several productive seasons with the Chicago Cubs, and a Cy Young award win in 2015. He’s not quite at the level he was that season, but he’s still in the realm of “ace” category.

The reason I say it’s a surprise is because ace’s generally get paid a ludicrous salary, and Arrieta and his agent will be looking to accomplish just that. At age 31, this is his best chance to cash in as a free agent, and in a pitching starved free agent market, he’s going to get paid well. Which is why the Blue Jays’ inclusion is a little surprisingly, only because they don’t figure to be spending that kind of money on the rotation.

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To be fair, this could be a case of Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro “kickin’ the tires” and checking the market, but it’s interesting to say the least. Assuming the Blue Jays enter the season with their current group, the rotation will be headlined by Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Aaron Sanchez. Adding Arrieta would make an already potentially formidable group all that much more dangerous.

If the Blue Jays do become serious bidders for Arrieta’s services, you’d then have to wonder if they’d look to flip a different starter to fill another need. Both Happ and Estrada’s contracts expire after the 2018 season, although Estrada just re-upped, so the club is unlikely to move on from him and gain a reputation for doing that sort of thing on the open market. Estrada did commit to them early, after all. However, Happ had a sneaky good season around injury troubles, and could bring back a decent return, even with just the one year left on his deal.

I would expect this to be a case of just checking in, but after a season that he finished just 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 168.1 innings across 30 starts, Arrieta’s market told a hit from where it would have been a year ago. Maybe that puts him into the range where the Blue Jays get serious about him, but he should still get a hefty pay cheque somewhere.

Next: Anthony Alford getting extra reps in the Fall League

While it’s encouraging to hear they’re checking in, I don’t expect the cheque to come from the Blue Jays.